Mold consists of tiny fungus spores that can be found in the air. In order to grow and thrive, these spores require water, food, air, and the correct temperature (An area that is shady and damp provides the best environment for mold).
Mold can live both outside and indoors. And while we all breathe in mold spores, some of us have the misfortune of experiencing an adverse allergic reaction (and even asthma symptoms) when we come into contact with these mold spores.
While there are hundreds of different types of molds, not all of them have been known to cause allergic reactions. Among the most common types of molds that can cause allergic reactions are: Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium.
What Are the Different Mold Allergy Symptoms?
- Itchy, watery and red eyes
- Post nasal drip
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Itchy nose and lips
- Dry, scaly skin
- Shortness of breath
- Asthma symptoms (allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis)
Although most outdoor mold allergies are seasonal and tend to peak between the months of July and September, indoor mold allergies can last an entire year.
How Do You Treat mold allergies?
One way to deal with a mold allergy is by limiting your outdoor activities during any month when the mold count is high.
It is also a good idea to wear a dust mask whenever you do plan on going outside to perform yard work — such as weeding your garden or mowing the lawn — as you may end up disturbing unknown mold sources.
To prevent mold allergies indoors, be sure to use central air conditioning with a HEPA filter. Free-standing air cleaners and purifiers do not treat a large enough area to be considered effective. Be sure to clean humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioners as they can often become sources of mold.
Be sure to regulate the humidity and dampness within your house, particularly in areas where mold thrives — such as the bathroom, basement and laundry room. It is always a good idea to be mindful of what you are storing in your basement or your cellar. (Mold has a tendency to grow on clothes, bedding and old papers.) If you are storing these items in your basement or cellar you should make sure that they are secured in airtight containers or vacuum sealed bags. You should also clean or replace items like shower curtains and bath mats as mold has been known to grow on these items, too.
In addition to these preventative steps you can also try some of the different brands of antihistamines and nasal sprays to control your mold allergy symptoms. Antihistamine medication and nasal sprays are available both with and without a prescription at any drugstore or pharmacy. However, as with all new medications, it is important to speak with a doctor before deciding which is best for you.
This is especially important for anyone who may be experiencing an allergic asthma reaction. In cases like this, you may be a good candidate for using an “EpiPen” or an emergency inhaler.
An EpiPen is an auto-injector that treats severe allergic reactions by injecting a chemical into the bloodstream that constricts your blood vessels and relaxes smooth muscles in the lungs to improve your breathing.
Depending on the severity of your allergic reaction, you may also be a good candidate for allergy shots. Allergy shots expose you to a small amount of allergens over the course of two to five years. These shots allow your immune system to build up a tolerance to these allergens — in the same way that vaccinations allow your body to build antibodies against viruses. Allergy shots can successfully decrease the amount severity of your allergic reactions.
For those who experience a skin rash or other skin irritations due to mold exposure, there are topical treatments like cortisone or prescription Corticosteroid creams that serve as effective treatments against these allergic reactions.
If you suffer from itchy, red and irritated eyes, you can treat these symptoms with eye drops or artificial tears that are specially formulated for these types of allergic reactions. While these products are available without a prescription, it is recommended that you speak with a doctor before you begin using anything new. As well, you should not use standard eye drops or artificial tears as they are not formulated to treat allergic reactions (and they may make your allergy symptoms worse).
Treating mold allergies with Dr. Mayank Shukla
Now that you know more about mold allergies and how to treat them, be sure to find a method that suits you best. Better yet, if you have any questions or concerns about mold allergies, feel free to reach out to us at your earliest convenience. To schedule an appointment, please visit drmayankshukla.com.