mold allergy identified, explained, & eliminated!
Learn about household mold, mold allergy symptom, mold types, mold control tips, & effective allergy treatment.
Molds, the "furry" little culprits behind mold allergy. We’ve all seen the unsightly mildew that appears on shower tiles, or the strawberries left in the frig too long. Molds are tiny fungi that have hyphae, or threadlike filaments. Living mold, dead mold, and mold spores are the allergens that affect our health.
Mold can be found in soil, in the air, and wherever there is moisture, oxygen, and some organic matter. You'll find mold in gardens, on some grasses and weeds, on grains like corn and wheat; It especially likes moist, shady areas. Also, mold loves to travel; the wind can carry them for twenty miles or so.
Molds thrive at temperatures between 70 degrees and 90 degrees, but they are hardy and can live at lower temperatures. During the winter, most molds become dormant, although some molds can actually grow at temperatures below freezing. In warm climates like the west coast and south, molds can grow all year, causing year-round allergy symptoms like rhinitis.
black mold or toxic mold
Black mold" or "toxic black mold" is usually associated with the mold Stachybotrys chartarum. It is a slimy, greenish-black substance commonly associated with heavy water damage (not all mold that looks black is true Stachybotrys mold). You will usually find black mold in water-soaked areas of a building, such as ceilings, walls, and paneling, though it can affect cardboard and some fabrics as well.
The correlation between black mold and disease is inconclusive, though it has been considered a contributing factor in allergies, asthma, and bronchitis. The Center For Disease Control claims that this type of mold is linked to deaths from respiratory bleeding, and it is linked to various lung disorders as well. Certainly anyone with an illness affecting their immune system would need to be wary of black mold.
Mold grows best at room temperature, so your house is a perfect place for mold to thrive and mold related allergy to flourish! In your home and basement, a musty smell will let you know that mold has set-up house! Mold can grow on many things, including: tile, grout, wood, paint, plaster, and fabric.
Although molds often originate in basements because of the dampness, spores can spread through the rest of your home. Mold spores that are set adrift in your home will find an appropriate place to live and grow, like bathrooms and kitchens which contain adequate food and moisture.
Places in your home that mold loves include:
• refrigerator drip trays
• air conditioners
• garbage pails
• foam rubber pillows,
mold allergy symptoms
Mold related allergy does not produce itchy eyes and nose the way pollens or food can. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever), inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose and sinus, is the primary mold symptom. Rhinitis results in a runny nose and congestion, and it can be caused by respiratory infections as well as allergies.
Sometimes the symptoms of mold related allergy can be exacerbated by eating certain foods, like cheeses that are processed with fungi, mushrooms, and dried fruits. Foods that contain ingredients such as yeast, soy sauce, or vinegar can also make mold symptoms more severe.
Mold related allergy will usually cause the following symptoms:
• runny nose
• stuffy nose
• mild cough
• impaired hearing (when eustachian tubes are affected)
• post nasal drip
For more about mold allergy, click for our "quick-symptom analyzer"
types of mold
There are only a few different types of molds that cause significant allergy problems in the United States. In general, Alternaria and Cladosporium are the molds most commonly found indoors and outdoors.
A list of the molds that are frequently detected includes:
1. Cladosporium - A significant mold allergen, found across the United States.
2. Alternaria - A major allergy-causing mold. Found outdoors.
3. Helminthosporium - Located in warmer southern states and temperate zones.
4. Epicoccum - Similar to Helminthosporium.
5. Penicillium - A common indoor mold often found in musty basements.
6. Aspergillus - A hardy indoor mold that can live in dry conditions.
7. Mucor - An indoor mold and the black mold we see on breads.
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mold allergy treatment
Medication for mold related allergy is the same as that for pollens and other inhalant allergies: bronchodilators, antihistamines, and corticosteroids.
A series of injections, in gradually increasing dosages, which include extracts of various allergens so that an individual can develop a tolerance to that allergen.
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mold allergy control tips
The best way to prevent mold in your home is my creating a situation in which mold finds it difficult to colonize:
• Use reputable allergy reduction products throughout your home
• store foods properly
• control the humidity in your home
• maintain/clean dehumidifiers and air conditioners regularly
• use an exhaust fan or open a window after bathing
• wash shower curtains, bathroom tiles, and grout regularly
• use a dehumidifier in your basement
• if painting your basement, use paint with a mold inhibitor
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by Bob Fioravante, M.S.
I Welcome Your Comments and Suggestions...
Bower, Lynn Marie. The Healthy Household, The Healthy House Institute, Bloomington: IN, 1995.
Edelman, Norman H. Family Guide To Asthma And Allergies, Time Life Media, Inc., 1997.
Kwong, Frank & Cook, Bruce. The Complete Allergy Book, Sourcebooks, Inc., Naperville: Ill, 2002.
Reader’s Digest. Fighting Allergies, Pleasantville, N.Y.” The Reader’s Digest Association, 2000.
Reader’s Digest. The Allergy Bible, Pleasantville, N.Y. “The Reader’s Digest Association, 2001.