Allergies Asthma Managing the Menace of Mold

Fix leaking faucets and pipes to help eliminate mold.Molds are tiny fungi whose spores float through the air. They like damp environments and need four things to grow: food, air, appropriate temperature, and water. Molds can be found outdoors, in homes, and in other buildings.

Everyone breathes in mold spores in the air, but some people have an allergic reaction or experience asthma symptoms if exposed to too much of this fungus. If you’re allergic to mold, your immune system is overly sensitive to specific mold spores and treats them as an allergen. Therefore, when you inhale the mold spores, your immune system triggers allergy symptoms.

There are hundreds of types of molds, but not all of them are responsible for causing allergy symptoms. The most common allergy-causing molds include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium.
Tips for Managing Household Mold

• Stay indoors on days when mold counts are high. You can keep track of mold and pollen counts in your area at aaaai.org/NAB.
• Keep away from uncut fields and avoid raking leaves.
• Take a shower after coming indoors. This will wash any mold spores out of your hair, keeping them from bothering you throughout the night.
• Eliminate mold from your home by fixing leaking faucets and pipes.
• Reduce the humidity in your home. Be sure your indoor humidity stays below 60 percent.
• Remove basement carpeting and replace it with linoleum or concrete flooring that will not retain moisture.
• Clean mold off walls using a vinegar solution.


Many people who are allergic to mold develop symptoms outdoors on days when mold spores are in the air. You may also have symptoms indoors if mold is in your home, school, or workplace. Symptoms of mold allergy include itchy nose, mouth, and lips; sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; runny nose; and nasal congestion. Mold can also trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

Because symptoms of mold allergy often mimic symptoms of other conditions, you should consult with an allergist if you suspect you may be allergic to mold. An allergist can determine whether mold is responsible for your symptoms. If you are diagnosed with a mold allergy, avoiding exposure to the allergen is the best way to manage your symptoms.

In addition to reducing your exposure to mold, your healthcare provider may recommend treating your symptoms with over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, eye drops, or nasal sprays. If your symptoms continue or if you have them for many months of the year, allergy immunotherapy may be recommended. Immunotherapy provides long-term relief of allergy symptoms by gradually exposing you to increasing amounts of the offending allergen, thereby allowing your body to build a natural immunity to the trigger.
 
You can keep your area’s pollen and mold counts at your fingertips with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s pollen/mold mobile app. Visit pollen.aaaai.org from your iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android to add the app to your home screen.

Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, aaaai.org

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, Spring/Summer 2016.