What is mold allergy?

Mold is everywhere. Mold spores can grow both outdoors and indoors all year round. They are fungi with seeds called ‘spores’ that travel through air. Some spores spread in dry, windy weather while others spread with fog or dew when the humidity is high. Mold spores count is highest at night, especially when it’s foggy, damp or rainy.

Upsetting these mold spores send them into the air, triggering an allergic reaction in people who have an allergy to mold.

What are the different types of mold allergy?

While there are many different types of molds, only few dozen can cause allergic reactions like alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium. These allergy-triggering molds can be found outdoors as well as indoors. These molds can grow on,

  •   Rotten logs
  •   Fallen leaves
  •   Compost piles
  •   Grasses or grains
  •   Bathroom
  •   Kitchen
  •   Basement
  •   Below the sink


What are the different mold allergy symptoms

Mold allergy symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. The symptoms of mold allergy are very similar to the symptoms of other allergies.

A person allergic to mold will experience one or more of the following symptoms when they come in contact with the allergen

  •   Nasal congestion
  •   Runny nose
  •   Sneezing
  •   Irritated eyes
  •   Coughing
  •   Wheezing
  •   Itchy throat
  •   Dry, scaly skin

Outdoor mold allergy may be experienced in summer and fall (or year-round in some climates)

Indoor mold allergy, on the other hand, can be experienced year-round.

Are there any serious diseases caused by mold allergy?

When an allergic person is exposed to mold, it normally triggers symptoms of hay fever which, while miserable, isn’t that serious. However, in some cases, the allergic reactions to mold can be more severe and include

  •   Asthma
  • Exposure to mold spores can aggravate asthmatic symptoms in people who already have asthma and are allergic to mold. In some people, exposure to certain kinds of mold can also lead to an asthma attack.

  •   Allergic fungal sinusitis
  • This symptom is a result of an inflammatory reaction to fungus in the sinuses.

  •   Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis
  • This symptom is a reaction to fungus in the lungs and can occur in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis.

  •   Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • In some very rare cases, exposure to airborne mold spores can lead to inflammation of the lungs. This may be triggered by vulnerability to allergy-causing dust at work.

What are the causes of mold allergy

Like all other allergies, mold allergy symptoms are caused when a person’s over-sensitive immune system is triggered.

When you inhale tiny spores of mold, your immune system falsely considers them to be foreign invaders and reacts to them, creating antibodies to fight these invaders. Even when the exposure has passed, the body keeps producing these antibodies to fight with the mold spores in it were to come in contact with them later.

This process triggers release of a substance called histamines. Allergic reactions are caused due to these histamines.

What are the risk factors associated with mold allergy?

These are number of factors that can lead to a development or (in case of presence of mold allergy) aggravation of mold allergy symptoms

  •   Having a family history of allergies
  •   Working in an environment where you are exposed to mold
  •   Living in a house with high humidity
  •   Working or living in a building that’s been exposed to high moisture
  •   Living in a house with poor ventilation


How does the doctor run a mold allergy test and diagnosis

To diagnose a mold allergy, the doctor will conduct the following tests -

  •   Complete medical history scan to check for symptoms
  •   Skin prick test where a tiny amount of mold is pricked into the skin to check if there’s an allergic reaction
  •   Specific IgE blood tests


What steps can one take for mold allergy prevention?

There is no mold allergy cure. The best way to stay allergy free is by avoiding mold spores. Although it is difficult to outrun mold, you can stick to the following home remedies to prevent your exposure to them

  •   Eliminate sources of dampness around you, especially in the basement
  •   Use a dehumidifier. Mold thrives in humidity, so it is best to keep the humidity levels below 50% at home
  •   Use an air conditioner, preferably one with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter attachment
  •   Change filters on your furnace and air conditioner regularly
  •   Ensure proper ventilation in all the bathrooms
  •   Don’t carpet bathrooms and basements
  •   Keep organic plant containers clean and dry
  •   Toss or recycle old newspapers and books

When you are venturing outside, ensure your follow the following steps to avoid mold

  •   Avoid going through places that can have high mold counts, such as a pile of dead leaves, damp areas, greenhouses and uncut fields among others
  •   Wear a dust mask when you’re out on a trek or going backpacking in the jungle
  •   Keep your backyard and surroundings clean and dry as they are breeding grounds for mold
  •   Avoid going out at night, especially during rainy season


What are the different types of mold allergy treatment?

It may not always possible to reduce or remove mold from your environment, in which case it becomes necessary to take medications. You can, in consultation with your doctor, consume the following medicine

  •   Nasal decongestants or nasal steroids to decongest clogged and stuffy nasal passages and reduce nasal inflammation
  •   Antihistamines can be consumed to fight allergy-inducing histamines released by the immune system to fight the mold spores
  •   Allergy shots or immunotherapy gradually desensitize your body to mold and can provide long lasting symptom relief
Molds on Dead Leaves, Grass or Weed

The best way to reduce mold allergy is by preventing it. The lesser your exposure to mold spores, the lesser and less severe the allergic reactions to them. You can follow a number of home remedies and other prevention tips stated above.

If you experience any allergic symptoms in damp, humid environment, it is quite likely that you might have a mold allergy.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for mold allergy. The only way to treat mold allergy is by preventing it and easing the symptoms of allergy once an allergic reaction has been triggered. It is best to consult with your doctor to understand what works best in your case.

You can follow a number of steps to reduce mold in your kitchen like

  •   Clean garbage pails frequently.
  •   Clean refrigerator door gaskets and drip pans.
  •   Quickly repair any plumbing leaks.
  •   Use an exhaust fan when you are cooking or washing dishes.

You can follow these steps to eliminate mold from your bathroom

  •   Use an exhaust fan or open a window in the bathroom during baths and showers.
  •   Remove bathroom carpeting from places where it can get wet.
  •   Scour sinks and tubs at least monthly. Fungi thrive on soap and other films that coat tiles and grout.
  •   Quickly repair any plumbing leaks.

Exposure to mold can trigger allergic reactions in people suffering from a mold allergy and it can cause side effects like nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, irritated eyes, coughing, wheezing, itchy throat and/or dry, scaly skin.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies. However, some medications can ease symptoms like antihistamines, nasal sprays, oral decongestants, etc. However, it is advised to consult with your doctor before consuming these medicines.

Long exposure to mold might be bad to everyone’s health but not everyone is allergic to mold.