Symptoms Of Mold Allergies
Mold allergy causes the same signs and symptoms that happen in other types of upper respiratory allergies. Mold allergy symptoms might include the following:
- Postnasal drip and cough
- Itchy nose, throat and eyes
Mold allergy symptoms differ among people and range from mild to severe. You might have symptoms year-round, or symptoms which flare up only during certain times of the year. You may notice symptoms when the weather is damp, or when you are outside or inside spaces with high concentrations of mold.
If you have asthma or a mold allergy, the symptoms of asthma might be triggered by exposure to mold spores. In some people, exposure to certain molds may cause a severe asthma attack. Signs and symptoms of asthma include the following:
- Shortness of breath
Where Do Molds Grow
Molds can be found wherever there is moisture, oxygen, and a source of the few other chemicals they need. In the fall they grow on rotting logs and fallen leaves, especially in moist, shady areas.
In gardens, they can be found in compost piles and on certain grasses and weeds. Some molds attach to grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and corn, making arms, grain bins, and silos likely places to find molds.
Hot spots of mold growth in the home include damp basements and closets, bathrooms , places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, air conditioners, humidifiers, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and old foam rubber pillows.
Bakeries, breweries, barns, dairies, and greenhouses. In addition, anytime there is a water leak, it is important that as soon as the source of the leak is repaired, the surrounding areas be inspected and cleaned if necessary for mold growth.
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Risk Factors For Mold Allergies
Several factors may make a person more likely to develop a mold allergy, or worsen their existing mold allergy symptoms. Some of these factors include the following:
- A Family History of Allergies: If asthma and allergies run in a person’s family, they are more likely to develop a mold allergy.
- Occupational Exposure: Occupations where mold exposure may be high include dairy work, farming, baking, logging, greenhouse work, carpentry, furniture repair and winemaking.
- Living or Working in a Building Exposed to Excess Moisture: Examples include water seepage during flood damage or rainstorms, or leaky pipes. At some point, almost every building has some kind of excessive moisture, which may allow mold to flourish.
- Living in a Home with Poor Ventilation: Tight door seals and window seals may trap moisture indoors and prevent appropriate ventilation, creating conditions that are ideal for the growth of molds. Damp areas such as kitchens, basements and bathrooms are most vulnerable.
- A Home with High Humidity: If a person’s indoor humidity is greater than sixty-percent, they might have increased exposure to mold in their home. Mold can grow almost anywhere if the conditions are right in basements, on soap-coated grout, behind walls in framing, in carpet pads or carpeting, as well as on damp surfaces. Exposure to high levels of household mold might trigger mold allergy symptoms.
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How To Diagnose A Mold Allergy
To test for a mold allergy, the doctor will take a comprehensive medical history and ask you about your symptoms and when they occur. Mold allergy tests include:
- Skin prick tests Droplets of mold allergens are placed on the skin surface with tiny punctures. Raised bumps strongly indicate an allergy to that substance.
- Blood tests Chemical testing detects Immunoglobulin E antibodies circulating in your blood that are directed at specific allergens. Lab results may take days. A blood sample is sent to a medical laboratory, where it can be tested for evidence of sensitivity to specific types of mold.
The doctor will put all the evidence together test results, your personal and family health history, home and work environments, activities that might expose you to allergens, a physical exam of your eyes, ears, nose and lungs before reaching a diagnosis.
Mold And Mildew Exposure Reduction
Mold allergy sufferers should try this method first. Avoid cutting the grass, digging in the yard, or picking up fallen leaves if you have a mold allergy. Make sure you utilize a dust mask if you must engage in any of these tasks. You should delegate the cleaning and restoration tasks to experts. They can identify the possible locations where mold and mildews can thrive. You need to know that some jobs are best handled by professionals.
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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.
How Do You Treat Mold Allergies
Youve figured it out by tracking your symptoms or even getting a testyoure allergic to mold. Now what?
Mold is way more prevalent than you might think. In fact, out of the 21.8 million people who have asthma in the United States, experts estimate that about 4.6 million cases are because of mold exposure in the home.
Dont admit defeat quite yet. There are a few things you can try to keep your mold allergy symptoms at bay.
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Other Issues Brought On By Mold And Mildew
Allergens, mold and mildew can present various other wellness dangers to at-risk individuals. For example, mold can trigger infections of the skin or mucous membranes. Normally, however, mold and mildew dont create systemic infections except for individuals with impaired body immune systems, such as those who have HIV/AIDS or who are taking immunosuppressant medication.
How To Minimize Molds Effects
The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that there are a number of precautions to take to ensure youre as safe as possible when youre in a mold, damp environment. These include:
Always wearing personal protective equipment. Whenever you could be potentially exposed to mold, always protect yourself out with protective gloves, an N-95 respirator and goggles.
Avoiding potential fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Always use portable generators with care, away and outside of your home.
Making sure there are no more traces of mold. You need to ensure theres no more mold before you go back to your home to live.
You can also do the following to guard against mold growing in your home:
Keep it well ventilated.
Clean mold from hard surfaces with water and detergent. Then, dry the area thoroughly.
Clean refrigerator drip pans regularly.
Clean garbage cans regularly.
Clean any leaks or spills in a timely manner.
Open windows, use exhaust fans or dehumidifiers to keep moisture to a minimum.
Ensure the outside of your home benefits from adequate drainage.
With the recent floods, many Texans may find patches of mold growing in their homes. As you can see from the above, molds do have the potential to cause health issues. But, dont panic. Theres plenty that you can do about mold growing in your home and about mold allergies.
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How To Avoid Mold Exposure
To reduce mold growth in your home, take into consideration these tips:
What Are The Symptoms Of A Mold Allergy
The symptoms of mold allergy are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies, such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion and dry, scaling skin.
- Outdoor molds may cause allergy symptoms in summer and fall
- Indoor molds may cause allergy symptoms year-round
Mold spores get into your nose and cause hay fever symptoms. They also can reach the lungs and trigger asthma. A chemical released by allergy cells in the nose and or lungs causes the symptoms. Sometimes the reaction happens right away. Sometimes a mold allergy can cause delayed symptoms, leading to nasal congestion or worsening asthma over time. Symptoms often get worse in a damp or moldy room like a basement. This may mean you have a mold allergy.
Rarely, some patients can have a more serious illness called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. In this condition, there is both an allergic and an inflammatory response to the mold. Symptoms may include severe wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, much like asthma.
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Foods To Avoid If You Know You Have A Mold Allergy
If you are at all familiar with my blog, then you know that I have previously discussed my experience with mold exposure, and how I self-diagnosed my food-related mold sensitivity.
I have been following a mold-free diet for over a year now, and have become well-acquainted with what foods do and dont agree with me, especially when it comes to mold.
The following are the foods that often contain mold that I have found to be the most offensive for me personally. There is a chance that you react to some of these, but not all of them, depending on which types of mold you are sensitive to.
There could also be other foods you are sensitive to, and really any food can form mold after it sits out for awhile. Be aware while eating leftovers, that foods can harbor mold after just a few days.
If you do know you are sensitive to one type of mold, I do recommend eliminating all of the following foods, then slowly reintroducing them one-by-one to see the impact.
Also, when dealing with mold, it is important to understand that changing your diet around can only help so much if you are living in a moldy environment.
It is imperative that you ensure your home, work, car and anywhere else you spend a significant amount of time are mold-free, or changing your diet around will not be able to completely heal your health issues.
With that being said, eliminating it has had the most significant impact on my health. Here are some tips on going gluten free.
What To Do If You Find Mold In Your Apartment
You should act immediately if you discover mold in your apartment. Notify your landlord right away, and consider asking them to turn to a professional mold inspector. Mold tends to grow in concealed places, such as behind appliances or walls, and professionals have the right equipment to detect it.
Once you or a mold inspector has detected a problem, your landlord should address the problem right away. They may clean the mold themselves or hire someone to do it. Properly sealing barriers and preventing further leaks, spills, or floods, then replacing, removing, or bleaching affected areas can solve the mold problem. However, toxic mold may require a professional mold removal service. Black toxic mold can pose a danger to people, and it can easily spread if it is not properly handled.
If you find mold on your personal property, you can discuss that damage with your landlord. However, depending on the terms of your rental agreement, you may need to replace your personal items. You may send a claim to your renters insurance company.
You can take a few steps to prevent mold from growing in the first place. Dry any moisture you see as soon as possible, and make sure you dont leave standing water anywhere. Whether that water comes from something you spill in the bedroom, or its around the kitchen sink, drying it out will help stop a mold problem before it begins.
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What If You Are Allergic To Mold
If you are allergic to mold, your doctor can prescribe medications to help decrease your mold allergy symptoms. If your allergy is severe, your doctor may refer you to an allergist for shots that will decrease your bodys allergic response to mold spores.
You will also need to avoid exposure to mold as much as possible in order to prevent your symptoms from getting worse. Any mold in your home will need to be cleaned up as soon as possible. Doctors usually recommend against cleaning up mold yourself if youre allergic to it, since the cleanup process exposes you to hundreds of thousands of mold spores that can make your symptoms much worse. Talk with your doctor or an allergist if youre not sure if its safe for you to clean up a household mold problem yourself. Here is more information on removing mold from the home.
To protect your health, we recommend calling in a mold removal professional. A trained professional will know how to do the job safely, without exposing you to excessive allergens. A professional can also make sure all traces of mold are removed, even mold in hard-to-reach places . For a list of experienced mold removal professionals in your area, follow the link. They offer free in-home consultations, so even if you arent sure you want to hire a professional, you have nothing to lose by consulting with one.
If your pets are showing signs of an allergy and you want more information on how mold affects pets, be sure to read pets and mold.
What To Do In Case Of Mold Allergy Symptoms
In case of continued symptoms indicating possible mold exposure, you may do the following:
- Consult the doctor if symptoms persist. Follow prescribed allergic medications.
- Do something to prevent new mold growth, such as cleaning up leaks or spills right away, using exhaust fans or dehumidifiers to reduce humidity and moisture at home, regularly cleaning refrigerator drip pans and garbage cans, regularly checking drainage and clearing gutters.
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Dealing With Summertime Allergy Symptoms
For the southern and midwest regions of the united states, the weather heating up warns of the approach of summer. Summertime covers the peak of allergy season, which starts in spring, until the very beginning of fall allergies. Even though season allergies a typically associated with spring and autumn, summertime allergies can be just as bad for some, if not worse. Depending on what you are allergic to will determine just how bad it is for you this summer. To help lessen the effects, we have put together this summer allergy guide to help you get the most out of the summer months.
Treatment For Mold Allergy
Prevention, management, and treatment of mold allergies are the most important measures to take in minimizing unpleasant symptoms. If youre planning to be around potential sources of mold, such as being outdoors, taking antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy medications in advance can help relieve symptoms. You can also wear a facemask to prevent inhaling mold spores.
While avoiding exposure to allergy triggers is the best way to eliminate symptoms, unfortunately, molds are ever-common and it can be difficult to completely avoid them. Although theres no guaranteed cure for allergic rhinitis caused by a mold allergy, there are a number of treatments and medications that can relieve symptoms, including:
To keep allergy symptoms at bay, there are certain lifestyle and home remedies that can help. Dust masks, avoiding the outdoors at certain times, regulating indoor humidity levels, and sleeping with the windows closed are just a few ideas. Managing an allergy requires understanding your unique triggers and how to avoid them.
Indoor Mold Allergy Management & Prevention
In addition to treating symptoms, the other key component in controlling your mold allergies is to guard against mold growth and exposure in and around your home:
1 Jacob, Beate et al. Indoor exposure to molds and allergic sensitization. Environmental health perspectives vol. 110,7 : 647-53. doi:10.1289/ehp.02110647
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