A mold allergy occurs when your body reacts in a hypersensitive way to inhaled mold spores. Because allergic reactions to molds can be similar to other allergic reactions it is often to difficult to know what you are reacting to. It is also important to know that not all of them cause allergies. Some of the more common types of molds that can cause allergies are cladosporium, aspergillus, penicillium, alternaria and fusarium. Understanding what a mold allergy is as well as identifying reactions can help in treating as well as preventing symptoms.
Molds are fungi that thrive both indoors and out. Inside the home, mold spores tend to like poorly ventilated, damp areas like bathrooms and basements. In the outdoors, they also prefer the same damp conditions and tend to appear shortly after the winter. Mold spores grow on trees, plants, and leaves, and spread either during foggy and damp, or dry and windy weather.
Because it can be difficult to know if you have a mold allergy, it's important to know if you are susceptible. If you have a family history of allergies due to pet dander, pollens and dust mites, then there is a greater chance that you may be prone to developing an allergy to mold. If you are unsure or suspect that you have an allergy, it's always a good idea to visit an allergist to get tested. A series of skin tests can let you know what allergies you may have as well as their severity.
Once you have established that you do have mold allergies, you can start to become aware of the symptoms. Commons signs of this type of allergy are a lot like many other respiratory allergies, and reactions are similar to that of hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Nasal congestion, itchy throat, coughing, watery eyes, and sneezing are to be expected after being exposed to molds.
In some cases, there are more severe symptoms to mold allergies. One of the more likely reactions is asthma. With increased inflammation from hay fever symptoms, reactions such as shortness of breath, chest tightness and wheezing may occur. A more rare condition that can arise is allergic fungal sinusitis. This occurs when mold spores make their way into the sinuses, and a fungal ball is formed. Often, surgery is required to remove it.
Prevention is an important way to help decrease signs of your mold allergy. Inside the home, be sure to use HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters in your vacuums, air purifiers and air conditioners. These are very effective in removing the microscopic mold spores from your house. To deter further mold growth, it's important to keep humidity levels down. This can be achieved with dehumidifiers, as well as installing exhaust fans in bathrooms and other damp areas.
There are many effective prescription and over-the-counter medications that can help decrease signs of mold allergies. Some of the more common treatments include antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays. Speak to your doctor about which medications will work best for you.