Mold Allergy Symptoms and Prevention: An Allergy to Mold may Cause On-Going Health Concerns
Like any allergy, mold allergy is caused by an over-active immune system For some people, exposure to mold causes the body to produce antibodies to fight off this foreign invader. The production of these antibodies may lead to symptoms of an allergic reaction.
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What is Mold?
Molds are living microscopic fungi that grow on plants and fibers. They do not qualify as either a plant or an animal. Mold comes in a wide variety of colors. Black, blue, pink and green are common colors of this fungus.
Molds reproduce with tiny spores that stay airborne for long periods of time. It is these mold spores that cause allergy symptoms. The spores, if they make their way indoors, attach themselves to fibers such as drywall, curtains, wallpaper and carpeting.
Many molds thrive in damp, moist areas which is why they are commonly associated with basements and bathrooms.
What are the Symptoms of a Mold Allergy?
When mold spores are inhaled, they may trigger an allergic reaction. Common symptoms of the reaction include:
- sneezing and runny nose
- nasal congestion
- itchy, watery eyes
- rashes and hives
- chronic cough
An allergist can use blood and skin tests to determine if someone is allergic to mold.
How to Treat a Mold Allergy
- The use of antihistamines or decongestants may relieve symptoms from a mold allergy. An allergist can recommend the best medication.
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy) help some people with a mold allergy. These are often given in monthly doses.
- Daily outdoor mold counts may help the severely allergic avoid outdoor activities on high mold count days.
- Reducing exposure to molds in the home will alleviate many .
How to Prevent Exposure to Mold
Mold spores travel in the air and attach to people’s skin, clothing, shoes, and belongings.
Mold spores may enter homes through open doors and windows, as well as a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
While mold spores can not be prevented from coming into the home, there are ways to reduce the amount of mold indoors:
- Vacuum and clean regularly, paying special attention to damp, moist areas. Use mold killing cleaning solutions in bathrooms and around sinks.
- Avoid wall-to wall carpeting in damp, moist areas. Instead use washable area rugs or a washable floor covering such as tile or vinyl.
- Open windows or use an exhaust fan vented outside in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Don’t store clothing or books in damp, moist areas of the home.
- Make sure the clothes dryer is vented outdoors.
- Consider a dehumidifier in the basement and keep attics insulated and well-ventilated.
- Check refrigerators and freezers for mold growth. Clean water out of drip pans.
- Check tree bark for mold before using it in an indoor fireplace.
- Use paints with a mold inhibitor in bathrooms and basements.
- Clean garbage cans frequently.
Only a few dozen varieties of mold cause allergic symptoms. Mold allergies may affect people year round, or only certain times during the year.
The mold count for the day is dependent upon the weather. Some mold varieties thrive in warm dry air, others in moist damp air. Consult an allergist for testing if allergic symptoms continue.
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