Overview of a Mold Allergy
A mold allergy happens when you breathe in bold spores and can cause coughing, itchy eyes or other allergy symptoms. The best way to treat these symptoms is by eliminating the mold source and limiting exposure.
- There are two types of molds that affect people – indoor and outdoor.
- Outdoor molds cause symptoms in summer and fall (and sometimes year-round in warm climates).
- Indoor mold causes allergies year-round.
- Symptoms include: sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion, and dry skin.
- There are many types of molds, yet only a few dozen are the cause of allergic reactions.
- The best treatment for a mold allergy is to avoid contact with mold by limiting time outdoors, investing in an air filter for your home, and taking medication for your allergy symptoms.
Symptoms of a Mold Allergy
Symptoms can be year-round or seasonal. They typically range from mild to severe. When weather conditions are damp, there is a higher risk for the presence of mold spores. Symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes. If you also have asthma, you may notice that your asthma is triggered by mold and may experience coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
Causes of a Mold Allergy
A mold allergy occurs when the immune system produces antibodies to fight the allergen. Typically the allergic reaction will occur on the second encounter with the allergen. Molds are very common and come in a variety of types. If you are allergic to one type of mold, it does not necessarily mean that you will be allergic to all types of mold.
Risk Factors of a Mold Allergy
There are a variety of factors that can make you at a higher risk for a mold allergy. If you have a family history of allergies or asthma, then you are at a higher risk for a mold allergy. Workplaces that have a high exposure for mold can lead to an increased reaction. If your home has high humidity, excess moisture or poor ventilation, this can also lead to a mold allergy. When one or all of these conditions are present, then there is a high chance that there will be mold present.
Complications of a Mold Allergy
Mold-induced asthma can occur when people who are allergic to mold also have an allergic reaction to mold. These symptoms can be severe and a plan should be ready. Allergic fungal sinusitis happens when there is a prolonged period of fungus in the sinuses. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is the reaction to fungus in the lungs in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is a rare condition that occurs when exposure to mold spores causes the lungs to become inflamed.
Prevention of a Mold Allergy
The best way to prevent an allergic reaction to mold is to eliminate the source of mold. Keep your air conditioner at a cool temperature and use a HEPA air filter. Use a dehumidifier. In places such as the bathroom, make sure there is proper ventilation. If there is carpet in the bathrooms or basements, then it is a good idea to pull those out and replace them with a hard floor, such as tile. To prevent a mold allergy, you must prevent the mold from happening.
Diagnosis of a Mold Allergy
To begin the diagnosis, your allergist will begin with a physical examination and will ask about your symptoms. To ensure a proper diagnosis, a skin prick test may be administered. In this instance, a diluted amount of the allergen is placed on the skin and the skin is pricked. If the injected spot becomes raised, then you are allergic. If you are not able to complete a skin test, then a blood test will be completed. During a blood test, your allergist will take a sample of blood and see how the antibodies react to the allergen.
Treatment of a Mold Allergy
The best treatment for the allergen is to avoid the allergen. If mold is present at home, you must take the necessary steps to get rid of them. If molds are common and you just cannot avoid them, for example, if they are at work, then your allergist may recommend a nasal corticosteroid to reduce inflammation. Antihistamines may be given to aid in itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. A variety of other medications are also available and your allergist will be able to help which will better suit your needs.