You can find mold everywhere, including outdoors, in your attic, the bathroom, and other dark, moist areas of your home. Currently, there are 21 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with asthma, but an estimated 4.1 million of those cases are attributed to exposure to mold in the home.
If you think you may have mold allergies, keep reading as we explore everything you need to know about mold allergies and mold allergy symptoms.
What Are Mold Allergies?
Mold can be found almost anywhere in the world, including Antarctica. A type of fungus, mold thrives in dark, damp areas and any place that suffers from poor ventilation.
Mold is technically harmless to humans and doesn’t affect the average person, but it does impact those with mold allergies and can cause symptoms that affect their daily lives.
Mold allergies occur when your immune system becomes sensitized to mold spores. After being exposed to mold spores, the body may begin to produce antibodies. After repeated contact, the body views mold as a threat and creates an immune response to protect you, resulting in mold allergy symptoms.
What Are Common Mold Allergy Symptoms?
Mold allergy symptoms vary in severity from person to person. However, some of the most common symptoms include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy nose
- Rash or hives
- Dry or scaly skin
- Breathing problems in severe cases
Not all mold causes a reaction, and not everyone experiences mold allergy symptoms to the same mold. However, Alternaria, Penicillium, Cladosporium, and Aspergillus are the most common molds that irritate allergies.
If you’re unsure what mold causes your allergies, consider taking an at-home allergy test. It can verify what mold you’re allergic to and any other environmental allergens you may have.
Who Is at Risk for Mold Allergies?
Certain people have a higher risk of developing an allergy to mold. Risk factors include:
- Genetics: If mold allergies run in the family, you may be at a higher risk of developing it too.
- Respiratory conditions: Those with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at a higher risk of developing mold allergies.
- Long-term mold exposure: If you work in a profession that exposes you to mold, allergies may develop over time.
- Living conditions: Homes with poor ventilation or higher than 50% humidity can create conditions for mold growth and increase the risk of a mold allergy.
Unlike seasonal allergies, mold allergy symptoms can happen at any time of the year, even though outdoor mold can worsen during spring and fall. During the fall months, mold can grow beneath piles of fallen leaves in the yard, gutters, or concrete, increasing your exposure every time you venture outside.
How to Prevent Contact with Mold
While you can’t completely rid your environment of mold, there are ways to lower your exposure.
Reduce mold exposure outside.
Mold can happily grow in all types of environments, so routinely check patio furniture, wood, concrete, and gutters for mold and clean as necessary. Raking leaves and removing them from the property as soon as possible can also reduce symptoms.
If you have standing bodies of water on your property, consider removing them. And if you are cutting the grass, tending to flowers, or digging around in plant materials, wear a dust mask to prevent inhaling mold spores.
Reduce mold exposure indoors.
While eliminating all traces of mold can be next to impossible, you can reduce your indoor exposure. Start by identifying hot spots for mold, such as under sinks and in basements and crawl spaces. Once you know your high-risk areas, watch for leaks and regularly use bleach to clean them. Pay special attention to bathrooms and garbage cans, as they are some of mold’s favorite spaces.
Also, keep rooms, especially the bathroom, well-ventilated by utilizing an exhaust fan or opening a window. Ensure your HVAC systems get routine maintenance and are professionally cleaned. Using a dehumidifier in damp areas of your home can reduce mold allergy symptoms, as can adding HEPA filters on your air conditioner, furnace, and air purifier.
If you are cleaning areas where mold may exist, wear a dust mask, gloves, and goggles to protect your face. Wash your hands immediately when finished and change your clothes.
How to Prevent Mold Allergy Symptoms
Avoiding exposure to mold is an easy way to manage your mold allergy symptoms. While that’s not always possible, there are things you can do to reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, nasal sprays, and eye drops may offer enough short-term relief in cases of mild mold allergies.
Antihistamines stop the effects of histamine, the chemical that causes mold allergy symptoms. As histamine gets released, it binds to receptors in your throat and nose, and they begin to swell and create mucus. This, in turn, causes inflammation, sneezing, itching, runny nose, and other allergy symptoms. Antihistamines block histamine, therefore temporarily preventing these symptoms.
Nasal sprays can also temporarily relieve the inflammation in your nose and throat. They wash away any lingering mold spores that may have been inhaled through the nose. Like nasal sprays, eye drops clean the area and temporarily reduce itching and watery eyes.
If OTC medications aren’t providing enough relief for your mold allergies, consider sublingual immunotherapy. Sublingual immunotherapy retrains your immune system to stop reacting to your allergies. By exposing your body to trace amounts of allergens, your immune system becomes desensitized and stops reacting to your allergies. This results in long-term allergy relief. Sublingual immunotherapy is just as effective as allergy shots and can be safely taken from home!
Use Wyndly to Relieve Your Mold Allergy Symptoms
Mold allergies put a damper on your daily activities. The itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny nose can be a frustrating experience, but allergy symptoms don’t have to constantly impact your life!
Wyndly offers a long-term solution to mold allergies with sublingual immunotherapy. Our allergy doctors will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that will get you lifelong relief from your symptoms. Take our two-minute assessment today to see if Wyndly is right for you!