Keep The Bedroom An Allergy Safe Zone
According to Dr. Reinhardt, the most important place to get rid of allergens is in the bedroom. Most people spend six to 12 hours in the bedroom sleeping, so it is important to make this a “safe zone.” But removing allergens is sometimes easier said than done.
Let’s say you have a pet dander allergy. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, this might mean that you just need to keep your pet out of the bedroom, or you may need to regularly deep-clean the room thoroughly to get rid of residual pet dander, including all of your bedding. Steam cleaning and dry cleaning may be necessary. If these measures fail, and your allergies don’t improve, it may be necessary to find a new home for your pet if you’re really sufferinglet your healthcare provider be your guide.
Removing other allergens may be easier : dust mites, for example, can be controlled by diligent cleaning, again, especially in the bedroom. This includes curtains, blinds, and all bedding. Some sources recommend encasing your bedding in a plastic or rubber wrapping. It is also important to dehumidify your home, since dust mites thrive in humid environments.
How To Clean Mold And Keep It Away
The best thing you can do to avoid mold-related issues is to keep it from growing in your home in the first place by reducing indoor humidity and moisture and to identify and repair water leaks from indoor sources or the walls, roof or windows, says Kemperman.
Always use an exhaust fan when cooking, and run the vent fan in your bathroom during showers and for at least 30 minutes after. Keeping moisture out of your basement can be complicated and may involve fixing drainage issues, sealing cracks in the foundation, or investing in a sump pump.
If you live in one of Seattles vintage apartment buildings or any older home, you may not have ventilation or an exhaust fan in your kitchen or bathroom. In those cases, its a good idea to use a portable fan or open a window to keep moisture from building up on walls and surfaces while youre boiling water or showering.
For really nasty mold problems, including large spaces and in your homes heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, always call in the pros. But for areas of mold in your home that cover less than a 3-by-3-foot area, its usually OK to handle the cleanup yourself, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The best way to clean mold off of hard surfaces is to scrub the area with a firm brush or sponge using water and detergent, Kemperman says. Always dry the area thoroughly to prevent regrowth.
What Do We Know About How Mold Affects Our Bodies
Mold is a fungi that releases microscopic airborne spores. Some molds are commonly found in households and may release spores and other particles into the air. If you have a mold allergy, it means that your body is sensitive to molds. When you breathe in airborne mold particles, your immune system may react and start trying to fight off the mold. The antibodies produced, including histamine, when your body tries to fight off the mold can cause hay fever-type symptoms, including:
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Throat irritation
- Skin rash
An allergic reaction to mold may happen immediately after exposure, or it may be delayed. Mold allergy symptoms and their severity will vary from person to person, depending on the type and severity of his or her allergy. For example, some people only experience mold allergy symptoms during certain weather conditions. Additionally, outdoor molds may only cause allergic reactions during certain seasons, but indoor mold, such as black mold, can cause reactions all year round.
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Does This Sound Familiar
While allergic reactions to substances like peanuts and bee stings are unmistakable, a mold allergy certainly sounds a lot like just being sick. Mold allergies are not just uncomfortable but deceptive as well. Diagnosing a mold allergy can be challenging because its so easy to mistake it for a cold, the flu, or another upper respiratory infection. What sets a mold allergy apart?
How To Detect An Allergen And Remove It From Your Home
Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.
An allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction. Some examples of common allergens are dust mites, cat dander, and pollen. Sometimes people can have severe allergic reactions to these substances that can lead to breathing problems and even death. More often, they cause bothersome symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, and fatigue.
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What Does Black Mold Exposure Treatment Look Like
Just like the diagnosis, the treatment of mold exposure differs from doctor to doctor. One thing most doctors will advise you to do is to test for and, if needed, remove any unhealthy mold conditions from your home. Even if the treatment will help in the short-term, it wont be effective over the long-term if your indoor environment isnt improved.
To treat the symptoms, doctors may suggest:
- Over-the-counter medication. Medicine that would decrease the airway inflammation and suppress the allergic reactions.
- Nasal sprays to deal with a runny or stuffy nose or rinses to clear your nasal passages from inhaled mold spores.
- Regular allergy medicine
A persons immune system has to be working properly to fight mold symptoms, so changes in a lifestyle or diet might be necessary. In more severe cases of allergies, doctors prescribe immunotherapy to provide relief from symptoms
How To Prevent Allergic Reactions To Mold
The key to controlling mold allergies is reducing your exposure to mold, whether indoors or out. Here are some steps you can take at home to lessen the likelihood of mold growth:
- Eliminate sources of water or dampness in your basement
- Change your furnace filters every three months
- Use a dehumidifier in spots where moisture accumulates
- Use air conditioners with high-efficiency particulate air filters
- Adequately ventilate bathrooms, washrooms, and kitchens
- Remove carpets from bathrooms and washrooms
- Promote groundwater drainage on your property
- Throw away old books, magazines, and newspapers
- Clean out drains and other water-collection points
- Remove garbage from the premises
- Wear a mask when gardening or working outdoors
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How Do Molds Affect People
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people with asthma symptoms in people with asthma and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.
In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould pdf iconexternal icon pdf icon. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies.
When To See A Doctor
If you are experiencing common mold allergy symptoms, see your physician for a professional diagnosis. In more severe cases, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency medical facility. Should the need arise, allergy sufferers with epinephrine auto-injectors can self-administer a medication to counter an anaphylactic reaction.
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Detecting The Allergen That’s Making You Sick
There are two ways to detect an allergen that is making you sick: through skin-prick testing, considered by many experts to be the gold standard, and through immunoglobulin E blood testing. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Robert Reinhardt, MD, associate professor at Michigan State University and senior director of medical and regulatory affairs and quality management at Phadia, U.S., Inc., both of these types of tests are underused by physicians who are more likely to simply prescribe medications to treat allergy symptoms.
Skin-prick testing involves first abrading the skin with a needle and then placing a series of drops of allergen extracts such as pollen, dander, molds, etc., onto the place where the skin was pricked. Then, you’ll wait 15 minutes to see if a reaction develops in comparison to a positive control and a negative control .
Specific IgE testing, , can help your healthcare provider diagnose the allergens that are causing your symptoms. IgE is an immunoglobulin, a protein that acts as part of our immune system, detecting foreign substances such as bacteria and allergens. IgE tends to overreact in response to an allergen this results in an allergy.
How Can I Prevent An Allergic Reaction To Mold
There is no cure for allergies. But you can reduce your allergy symptoms by avoiding contact with the mold spores. Several measures will help:
Reduce Your Exposure to Mold Spores Outside
- Limit your outdoor activities when mold counts are high. This will lessen the amount of mold spores you inhale and your symptoms.
- Wear a dust mask when cutting grass, digging around plants, picking up leaves and disturbing other plant materials.
Reduce Your Exposure to Mold Spores Inside
- Use central air conditioning with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter attachment. This can help trap mold spores from your entire home. Freestanding air cleaners only filter air in a limited area. Avoid devices that treat air with heat, electrostatic ions or ozone.
- Lower your indoor humidity. No air cleaners will help if excess moisture remains. If indoor humidity is above 50%, fungi will thrive. A hygrometer is a tool used to measure humidity. The goal is to keep humidity below 45%, but below 35% is better. If you have to use a humidifier, clean the fluid reservoir at least twice a week to prevent mold growth. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can also be a source of mold.
- Prevent mold and mildew build up inside the home. Pay close attention to mold in bathrooms, basements and laundry areas. Be aggressive about reducing dampness.
To Reduce Mold in Your Bathrooms:
To Reduce Mold in Your Kitchen:
To Reduce Mold in Your Laundry Area:
To Reduce Mold in Your Bedrooms:
To Reduce Mold in Your Basement:
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Symptoms And Signs Of A Mold Allergy
Symptoms of a mold allergy are very similar to those that occur in other upper respiratory allergies. Most of the time, they represent hay fever type of symptoms that arent serious but they can make you downright miserable.
Indications tend to vary depending on the person. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. You might feel your symptoms get worse when youre in an enclosed place that has mold growth or if the weather is damp.
Indoors, molds tend to cause you year-round symptoms if youre sensitive. Outdoor mold can cause you to feel symptoms year round in some climates. Alternatively, you may only feel symptoms and signs of mold exposure in the spring, summer and fall.
Symptoms of a mold allergy include:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Asthma and COPD both cause chronic airway inflammation. The illness interferes with your breathing and a mold allergy can make your breathing worse if you have these conditions.
If you have any of the above conditions, its crucial to limit your exposure to allergens as much as you possibly can. And if you have either of these conditions and have been exposed to mold, be sure to give us a call here at Houston ENT & Allergy.
Mold Allergy And Asthma
If the person also has asthma, they may have an increase in asthma symptoms, like wheezing, says Susan Besser, MD, a primary care physician at Mercy Personal Physicians at Overlea in Maryland.
Its important for anyone with asthma to have anasthma action plan, a written plan that spells out how to address an asthma attack, beginning with the early signs of trouble. If you have allergies, including mold allergies, the plan should include that information and note that exposure to mold may trigger an asthma flare-up.
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Health Symptoms That Can Be Caused By Mold In Your House
Mold doesnt bother everyone. In fact, out of thousands of mold species, only a few dozen will trigger any health problems at all, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Still, some of us are sensitive to molds. People who are allergic to an indoor mold can experience year-round symptoms like a sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, and more for those who also have asthma, mold can trigger an asthma attack. People with a weakened immune system or a chronic lung condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can develop a serious infection in the lungs if theyre exposed to mold.
People without allergies and asthma arent immune to the effects: In 2004, the Institute of Medicine concluded that people without pre-existing lung conditions can also experience symptoms like nasal congestion and a sore throat if they live in a house with damp floors or moisture accumulation.
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How Do You Get The Molds Out Of Buildings Including Homes Schools And Places Of Employment
Mold growing in homes and buildings indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. This is the first problem to address.
Remove moldy items from living areas. Once mold starts to grow in carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall, or wallboard, the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement.
It is important to properly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture.
Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly.
Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly after any flooding. Dig out mud and dirt . Use a wet vacuum to remove remaining dirt. Scrub cleanable surfaces with soapy water and a bristle brush. Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces with water and dish detergent. Dry surfaces quickly and thoroughly after cleaning. If you have a fan, air conditioner or dehumidifier that wasnt affected by flooding use it to help the surfaces dry after you finish cleaning
Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water to kill mold on surfaces. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners.
If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:
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Getting A Diagnosis For Mold Sickness
While symptoms to mold exposure are not uncommon , many health care professionals struggle to pinpoint the cause behind these symptoms.
Often only a few people or one person and not everyone, in a home or workplace experience symptoms. This is frustrating and confusing for the sick person. When their doctors cant find any reason for the illness, they can start to feel like the sickness is all in their mind.
People suffering from mold exposure can often be misdiagnosed with disorders such as:
Mold Allergy Symptoms Fatigue
Fatigue in itself is not enough to press the alarm button on mold exposure. However, you could claim that you have an allergy to mold if you feel it with other mold allergy symptoms, such as coughing, stuffy or runny nose, headaches, light sensitivity, poor memory, red eyes, itchiness, and dry skin. It becomes an even bigger cause of concern about mold exposure if you recently have experienced flooding or leaks around the house.
Fatigue must also be distinguished from tiredness. It is more prolonged and makes you feel like you need longer rest to recover from it.
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What Is Toxic Mold Syndrome
Lately, there has been a lot of conversation online about so-called toxic mold syndrome. The idea is that mold is responsible for a host of maladies that cant otherwise be explained, from fatigue to nausea to cognitive dysfunction. However, there is no evidence to prove this link, says Rampur.
I do often get patients thinking they could be allergic to mold, but these are not the symptoms of true allergies, she says. There is no proof that mold can cause all these immune dysfunctions. Vague symptoms like these are always a challenge, but most tests will come back negative for mold allergies.
How Do You Know If Youre Allergic To Mold
There are more than 200,000 cases per year of mold allergies in the United States. How do you know if you have a mold allergy? Often times, if you have allergies that persist year-round or through several seasons of the year, you could be, allergic to mold spores or other types of fungi. Molds exist everywhere and sometimes disturbing a mold can release mold spores into the air. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says that:
Mold and mildew are fungi. They are different from plants or animals in how they reproduce and grow. The seeds, called spores, travel through the air. Some spores spread in dry, windy weather. Others spread with the fog or dew when humidity is high. Inhaling the spores causes allergic reactions in some people. Allergic symptoms from fungus spores are most common from July to early fall. But fungi grow in many places, both indoors and outside, so allergic reactions can occur year round.
When suspicious of a mold allergy, you should avoid or minimize outdoor activity when counts are high. Another way to aid in minimizing reactions to mold is by seeing an allergist. Allergy and Asthma Center of the Rockies is always a good resource and is here to help with any allergic or asthmatic symptoms. Schedule an appointment today to discuss mold and other allergens. We can help you live without worrying about mold allergies and other allergens.
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