Mold is commonly found outside and it grows on fallen trees, leaves and various other surfaces. Many people also have mold growing inside their house, especially in the basement, bathroom and other areas of the home that are damp.
Mold is considered a fungi and when people who are allergic to mold breathe in mold spores, they have an allergic reaction. This type of response occurs when a person’s immune system reacts and unleashes substances in the body that cause allergy symptoms. Mold allergies are normally not dangerous, but exposure to mold can cause some individuals to develop more serious conditions, such as mold-induced asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
Mold allergy symptoms are similar to other types of allergic reactions and they include a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes that itch and a rash. People who have asthma may also have asthmatic symptoms, which include wheezing, a tight feeling in the chest and breathing problems.
Foods that have a tendency to quickly grow mold can also aggravate allergies and cause symptoms. These foods include cheeses, breads, soured milk and mushrooms. Individuals should avoid smelling these foods if there is a possibility that they are moldy. The inhalation of mold spores through the nose can also cause mold allergy symptoms.
Mold allergies, like all other allergies, are an autoimmune disorder caused by an oversensitive or exaggerated immune system response. The reaction is caused when you inhale tiny airborne mold spores. Your body then produces antibodies that keep on the lookout for that substance to show up again. When you’re exposed to these substances again, they release a number of substances to “defend” the body from the invader. These substances, including histamine, are what causes the symptoms.
It’s not well understood why someone develops allergies. There is a strong genetic component, though there is an increasing number of cases that can’t be explained through genetics. Sex, age, and race can also all be risk factors. Environmental risk factors include environmental pollution, allergen levels, exposure to infectious diseases during childhood, and dietary changes.
Staying away from mold and removing it from the home is the best way to prevent recurring mold allergy symptoms. There are medications available that can help individuals prevent the symptoms and these include nasal corticosteroids, which are usually in the form of a nasal spray.
Oral decongestants and decongestant nasal sprays can both help relieve a stuffy nose and congestion. Individuals who have symptoms of sneezing and itching can take an antihistamine medication. Allergy shots can help the symptoms of some forms of mold. Squeezing a salt water solution into the nose with a bulb syringe can also help to keep mold spores rinsed out of the nose.
The easiest way to prevent mold allergies is to limit exposure to mold. This can be accomplished by limiting time outside when mold counts are high, like in the spring or fall or after extended periods of rain. Also wear a dust mask rated to reduce mold exposure when doing activities that are likely to expose you to mold, such as cutting the grass or raking leaves. Mold spores and other allergens can also really stick to clothing and so changing out of the clothes you wore outside as soon as you can will greatly reduce symptoms.
There are also many ways that you can reduce the amount of mold inside your home. If you have a central AC or furnace, be sure to use HEPA filters that are rated to catch mold. Also use vacuums with the HEPA filter as well, otherwise the mold can just travel right through the vacuum and back out into the wider environment. There are also HEPA air filters that can be purchased, often at a reasonable price, that will take the mold right out of the air.
Maintaining a lower humidity will also go a long way in preventing mold growth. Fungi do well in an environment that’s over 50% relative humidity. You can use a dehumidifier to maintain humidity below 45% or even 35%.
Also insure that all furniture, boxes, and such in your basement has spacing so air can properly flow around it, preventing mold growth.
Eating properly has also been shown to reduce allergy symptoms. One study found that children that ate more fresh fruits and vegetables were significantly less likely to show allergy symptoms. Probiotics, like those found in fermented foods such as yogurt and kimchi, have also been shown to help with allergies.
There are a plethora of natural remedies that many people have found help with allergies. These include nasal rinses such as neti pots, butterbur, and even acupuncture.
There is also a wide range of allergy medications available from the pharmacy.