Allergies Seasonal Mold Triggers

Mold is a fungus that grows both outdoors and indoors. It digests and breaks down plant and/or animal matter. Outdoor molds, which grow in places such as soil, vegetation, and rotting wood, release spores in the spring, summer and fall. These tiny, lightweight grains often remain airborne for hundreds of miles. Like pollen, these spores spread quickly. During the winter, indoor molds can be problematic. Types of indoor mold include aspergillus, cladosporium, and alternaria. Indoor molds reside in places where there is adequate moisture, such as:

  • attics
  • basements
  • carpeting
  • couches
  • curtains
  • refrigerators.

Mold allergies are year-round for some people, and worsen in damp, warm places. Mold allergies arise when mold spores cause allergic rhinitis or asthma.

Allergic rhinitis symptoms occur when the body’s immune system produces antibodies in an attempt to fight the allergens. The antibodies cause the release of histamines, which induce symptoms such as:

  • achiness
  • coughing
  • fatigue
  • hives or rash
  • itchy eyes
  • loss of voice
  • sneezing.

Molds also produce volatile organic compounds. This musty odor irritates the eyes, nose and throat.

Mold Prevention

If you are concerned that your house has high levels of mold, you can get your house tested. Environmental testing services can be found in the Yellow Pages. Testing for mold is as simple as obtaining a carpet dust sample. In general, keep potentially damp areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, dry. Use cleaners with bleach and chlorine, because they kill existing mold and prevent new growth. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are also effective at removing mold, and more environmentally safe. Check for leaky plumbing and leaks other additional water sources. Mold can grow in many places within a home. If the following items become moldy, they must be removed and replaced:

  • carpet
  • ceiling tiles
  • drywall
  • insulation.

When building a new home, plan for the laundry room and garage to be separate and closed off from the rest of the house. For a bathroom, use vinyl sheets in the tub and shower areas as well as vinyl flooring. Ceramic tiles allow for mold to grow in the grout and should be avoided if you are concerned about mold allergies. Waterproof basement or garage areas by applying a sealing paint. Finally, invest in a HEPA-certified air purifier to control the following:

  • animal dander
  • bacteria
  • dust
  • mold
  • odors
  • pollen.

Mold flourishes in damp, warm areas, so reduce indoor humidity by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources. Place exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens; they are effective at reducing moisture levels. Dehumidifiers are also a great way to reduce dampness inside a home, office or basement. If you absolutely must be in a moldy area, wear a filtered mask to reduce your chance of inhaling mold spores.

Mold in Antibiotics

Mold cultures are present in antibiotics, such as tetracycline, penicillin and mycin. Allergic reactions to these medicines can be intense and life-threatening. Immediately contact a doctor if you experience any negative symptoms after taking these medications.

Mold and Pollen Counts

Pollen and mold counts are obtained by measuring the grains of allergens present in a cubic meter of air from the previous 24 hours. These counts are available online as well as through local media sources. The counts vary from day to day and are reported as:

  • none
  • low
  • moderate
  • high
  • very high.

Resource

Davis, J.L.(2008). Mold and allergies: 10 ways to reduce symptoms. Retrieved March 19, 2009, from the WebMD Web site: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/mold-allergies-reduce-symptoms.