Mold Allergy Symptoms
Do your allergies seem to get worse when it rains? If so, you may
be suffering from a mold allergy. Mold allergies are generally not life threatening.
But they can impact your ability to lead a productive, comfortable daily life.
Here are a few tips to help you spot mold allergies.
The primary allergen in mold is the
mold spore. Because those spores can eventually make their way to the air, they
also make their way to your nose. This triggers an allergic reaction. This mold
has been linked to allergies and asthma.
Mold grows in moisture, either indoors
or outdoors. While the mold spores constantly floating in the air can trigger
reactions, the problem worsens when those spores attach to a wet surface and
mold begins to grow. You may have mold growing inside your house and not know
it. This could be due to an unknown leak, moisture buildup in a basement, or
damp areas under carpet that have been left unchecked.
Because mold grows year-round, mold
allergies generally aren’t seasonal like other allergies. Those who are
allergic to mold can experience symptoms any time, especially if they live in
an area that tends to get rain fairly often.
Basic Symptoms of Mold Allergies
If you’re allergic to mold, you’ll
likely experience histamine reactions similar to those from other types of
airborne allergies. Those symptoms include:
- watery and itchy eyes
- postnasal drip
You may initially mistake your mold
allergies for a cold or sinus infection, since the symptoms can mirror each
other. If your allergies are compounded by asthma, you may notice your asthma
symptoms worsening when you’re exposed to mold. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty
breathing, and chest tightness. You also may experience wheezing and other
signs of an asthma attack.
Mold Allergies in Children
If your children are the only ones in
the family suffering histamine-related allergy symptoms, it may not be related
to mold in your home. Some school buildings have unchecked mold, which can
result in increased attacks while at school. But it could also be that your
child has a sensitivity to mold, whereas no one else in the family does.
Since some children spend time playing
outside in areas parents might not venture, mold may be prevalent in the
outdoor air. Asthmatic children may experience more attacks while playing
outside for this reason. You may note more symptoms in the summertime months
when your children are playing outside more often.
Is Mold Toxic?
You may hear many myths about the
toxicity of mold. For example, that inhaling mold can cause permanent damage.
The truth is that it would be very difficult for someone to inhale enough mold
to do that kind of damage. If you aren’t sensitive to mold, you may never even
experience a reaction.
Furthermore, the mold that asthma has
been associated with is generally found outdoors, not indoors. So that leaky
window at work isn’t likely to cause you to develop asthma. Outdoor mold will
only exacerbate symptoms for people who have asthma, and not cause asthma
itself. However, a serious condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis is
rare, but attributed to prolonged mold inhalation in patients who are
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis can
develop over time in patients who are sensitive to mold spores in the air. One
of the most common types of hypersensitivity pneumonitis is known as “farmer’s
lung.” Farmer’s lung is a serious allergic reaction to mold found in hay and
other types of crop material. Because farmer’s lung is so often undiagnosed, it
can cause permanent damage in the form of scar tissue on the lung. This scar
tissue, called fibrosis, can worsen until the patient begins to have trouble
doing simple tasks.
Once farmer’s lung progresses to a more
chronic form, symptoms may become more severe than simple histamine reactions.
Farmer’s lung patients may experience:
- blood-streaked sputum
- muscular pain
Those who work around potentially moldy
crop materials on a regular basis should watch for early histamine reactions
and seek treatment if they suspect farmer’s lung may be developing.
While mold exposure is generally not
deadly, increased exposure can make symptoms worse. Mold allergies are
progressive. Over time the attacks become more severe. The key is to prevent
moisture from building up by repairing any leaks in your home.
If you notice a water build-up in any
part of your home, stop the leak immediately. When working in situations where
outdoor mold may be present, wearing a face mask can drastically reduce your
exposure to the allergen. Masks that will protect your respiratory system from
being affected by mold spore exposure are available.