Allergies Types Mold

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance, known as an allergen. Common allergens include:

  • dust
  • mold
  • pet dander
  • pollen.

Allergic reactions can be mild, moderate or severe. Symptoms of mild allergies include:

  • congestion
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • rash.

Moderate allergic reactions include the above symptoms, plus itchiness and difficulty breathing. Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening and include swelling, abdominal pain and nausea.

Facts About Mold Allergy

Mold is a type of multi-cellular fungus that breaks down dead material, such as food, leaves, wood, paper or dirt, and returns nutrients to the environment. As mold grows, it digests plant or animal matter by releasing spores into the air. Mold grows quickly in dark, moist places, such as basements or bathrooms (mildew is a type of mold).

Most people breathe in mold spores every day with no ill effects. However, people with mold allergies can have a reaction if they’re exposed to it. Diagnosis of a mold allergy is usually made by a routine blood test and X-ray. Symptoms of a mold allergy resemble most mild allergic reactions and include:

  • itchy, watery eyes
  • rash or hives
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • wheezing.

Mold spores become most active outdoors after strong winds or storms. Cutting grass, spreading mulch or harvesting can also cause mold spores to become airborne. Indoor mold spores become active during any action that raises dust, such as vacuuming or changing the beds.

Reducing Household Mold

Because mold is found nearly everywhere, it’s virtually impossible to avoid it completely. If you have mold allergies, however, you can take steps to reduce your risk of an allergic reaction.

Check all food for signs of mold before you consume it. Keep in mind that mold is not always visible. While mold on some foods, like bread, has a distinct fuzzy green appearance, mold can also have branches and roots that penetrate deep into food and cannot be seen. If the food is at all questionable, throw it in the trash.

Foods that have the highest risk for developing mold are:

  • bread
  • buttermilk
  • canned juice
  • cheese
  • dried fruits such as raisins or prunes
  • hot dogs
  • meat and fish
  • mushrooms
  • sauerkraut
  • sausages
  • sour cream
  • soy sauce
  • vinegar.

Try to avoid going outside after a storm or other times when mold spores are heavy. Have someone else in your household cut the grass or put down the mulch in your yard. Avoid indoor dust whenever possible. Exhaust fans and vents in the bathroom may help cut down on mold and mildew growth.

Cutting down on dampness in your home will help deter mold growth. Let damp shoes and clothing dry completely before putting them away. Use a chemical moisture remover in your closets. Fix any water leaks immediately. Consider placing a dehumidifier in your basement or any other dark, damp areas of the house.

Mold Allergy Treatment

Mold allergy symptoms are most commonly relieved by over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines. In more severe cases, immunotherapy (allergy shots) is sometimes recommended. Immunotherapy is the injection of small controlled portions of the allergen into the bloodstream. Over time, immunotherapy helps the allergic person build up a resistance to the allergen.

Resources

Allergy Relief Center (2007). Mold allergy prevention and control. Retrieved March 24, 2009, from the Allergy Relief Center Web site: http://www.theallergyreliefcenter.com/mold_allergy.htm.

Modric, J. (2009). Mold allergy. Retrieved March 24, 2009, from the Health Hype Web site: http://www.healthhype.com/mold-allergy.html.