Recognizing and Managing a Mold Allergy

Key Takeaways:

  • Molds, a subtype of fungi, generate microscopic spores that float in the atmosphere and can cause allergic reactions.
  • Mold thrives outdoors on decaying matter and indoors in damp spaces like bathrooms, kitchens, and attics.
  • Symptoms of a mold allergy can mimic those of other illnesses, and an allergist can confirm a diagnosis through a physical exam and various tests.
  • Managing mold growth includes keeping indoor humidity levels low, promptly repairing leaks, drying wet areas thoroughly, and ensuring good ventilation.
  • Treatment options for mold allergies include over-the-counter medications, nasal rinses, and allergy shots.

The world is home to approximately 1,000 kinds of mold, and these ubiquitous fungi are likely all too familiar to those with allergies. Even for people with a mold allergy, everyday life can be made more manageable with certain strategies. These include decreasing mold presence, utilizing medications, and staying away from mold-ridden areas.

The Nature of Mold

A subtype of fungi, molds generate microscopic spoors that are continually floating in the atmosphere. This omnipresence is what causes allergic reactions in some individuals. Mold has been scientifically connected to perennial conditions like allergic rhinitis and asthma.

Outdoors, molds can often be found on decaying logs, compost heaps, and grass. Molds also favor environments where plants destroyed by freezing temperatures provide ample organic matter for growth.

Indoors, mold prefers damp spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens, and attics.

Determining if you have Mold Allergy

A consultation with an allergist is the most effective way to identify if symptoms are due to a mold allergy. Sometimes, the symptoms of a mold allergy can mimic those of a common cold, sinus infection, or another respiratory allergy. Typical symptoms include nose, eye, and throat irritation, sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, presence of mucus in the throat, and symptoms of asthma like wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. If you notice an improvement in your health when avoiding mold, this could be an indication of mold allergy.

An allergist, when diagnosing, will take into account your full medical history, perform a physical examination, and may conduct skin or blood tests.

Coping with Mold

To minimize the growth of mold, keep indoor humidity levels below 60%, and ideally between 30% to 50%. A dehumidifier can help in maintaining this range.

It’s vital to promptly repair leaking roofs, windows, and pipes to deter mold growth in damp areas. After flooding, clean and thoroughly dry all affected areas. Ensure sufficient ventilation in shower, laundry and cooking areas to help manage humidity levels.

Treatment options for mold allergies include over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal corticosteroid sprays. A saline kit to rinse your nose can be beneficial as it helps flush out irritants present in your breathing passages. Allergy shots are also an option that your doctor may suggest.

Further Information

Additional resources explaining mold allergies can be found at the website of the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology here.

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