Do you sneeze in dark, damp basements where mold often lurks? Mold allergies cause annoying symptoms and contact with mold can also lead to serious infections and lung damage. With some simple tips, you can reduce your risk of mold allergy and severe disease.
How Will I Know If I Have Mold Allergies?
Symptoms of mold allergy can occur anytime, but tend to occur or get worse on damp days or in moist areas. You might have the following symptoms:
Dry scaly skin
Itching of your eyes, nose, mouth, or throat or skin
Coughing and postnasal drip, which is excessive mucus collecting in your throat
Severe asthma symptoms (in some people), such as wheezing and shortness of breath
Mold allergies mimic other conditions, such as colds, so it may be hard for you to know whether your symptoms are due to an allergy or not. You should see your doctor if you have unexplained symptoms. Your doctor will complete a physical exam and ask detailed questions about your medical history and symptoms.
You might also have allergy tests: Skin tests involve placing tiny amounts of allergy causing substances under your skin and watching for a local reaction. A blood test measures the level of certain antibodies, which are the substances that cause allergies.
Who Gets Mold Allergies?
Mold allergy is often an occupational hazard. Spores from mold, a type of fungus, are like microscopic seeds that fly through the air when the mold (or mildew) is disturbed, such as when you are raking leaves; felling trees and splitting logs; and working on a farm. You are more likely to develop a mold allergy if you work in areas that involve contact with mold, such as farming, logging, baking, carpentry, millwork, winemaking, furniture repair, or greenhouse work.
Mold allergy is more likely in people who live or work in a moist or damp building where mold and mildew like to grow. This can occur due to leaky pipes, a flooded basement, or poor ventilation.
What Can I Do to Prevent Mold Allergies?
The best way to prevent mold allergies is to minimize mold contact.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Change your furnace filters often and use an air purifier and furnace filter designed for allergies
Do not allow moisture to linger. Hire professional flood damage services after a flood. Use a dehumidifier or ventilation fan in damp places, such as basements, kitchens and bathrooms.
Do not keep house plants, which can grow mold in moist soil.
Wear a dust mask when mowing the lawn and doing other yard work.
Use a bleach-based cleanser to kill mold in moist areas such as bathrooms.
Close your windows and stay indoors when outdoor mold counts are high, generally at night and on cool, wet days.
What Are the Best Remedies for Mold Allergy Relief?
In addition to preventive measures, you may need medications to relieve mold allergy symptoms.
You can try the following remedies:
Nasal saline sprays to rinse out allergens and help break up nasal congestion
Corticosteroids to reduce and prevent nasal congestion and itchiness
Decongestants to reduce nasal congestion and include pills, liquids and nasal sprays
Antihistamines to relieve runny nose, sneezing, itching, and irritated eyes
Montelukast (Singulair) to reduce many seasonal allergy symptoms, particularly asthma
Allergy shots, or allergy immunotherapy, can help with moderate to severe mold allergy symptoms that are not relieved with other medications.
Because of potential side effects consult with your doctor before trying any new medication.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of a mold allergy. Your doctor will recommend treatments to best manage your symptoms and provide advice on preventing serious problems. Serious problems include asthma symptoms, mold infections, and lung damage.
Other reasons to call your doctor include:
Symptoms that are not improving with treatment
Unusual or new symptoms such as shortness of breath, which suggest a more serious condition
Side effects from medication