Symptoms of a Mold Allergy
Mold allergy or an allergic reaction to various types of mold produce symptoms similar to other upper respiratory allergies. Symptoms range from mild to severe depending on the person. Some people have year-round symptoms, while other people are affected by flare-ups only during certain times of the year. Damp weather conditions are a usual suspect that produces mold allergy symptoms. Both indoor and outdoor spaces with high concentrations of mold may also be the culprit. In fact, people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors and breathe about 3,000 gallons of air a day. One out of six people who suffer from allergies does so as a direct result of mold and bacteria in their HVAC system. So, poor indoor air quality is a big contributing factor in mold allergy.
Effects of allergic rhinitis caused by exposure to mold can include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Cough and postnasal drip
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Dry, scaly skin
Asthma and Mold Allergy
People with asthma are often also extremely allergic to mold. For some people, mold spores trigger severe asthma attacks. Symptoms of an asthma attack can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Wheezing and coughing
A recent study shows that workers in the U.S. miss around 14 million days per year because of asthma which is common triggered by inferior indoor air quality.
Causes of a Mold Allergy
Mold allergy symptoms are generally triggered by an overly sensitive response by the immune system. The body recognizes inhaled mold spores as foreign invaders and develops antibodies to fight them.
After the initial exposure to mold has passed, the body will continue to produce antibodies to defend itself. So, future contact with the same mold will cause the immune system to react in the same way. This ongoing battle triggers the release of substances like histamines, which cause the mold allergy symptoms listed above.
Molds commonly occur in both inside and outside environments. While there are many kinds of mold, only certain types can cause an allergic reaction. Some of the most common molds that cause allergies include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium. People who are allergic to one type of mold might not be allergic to another type. It depends on the individual immune system.
How to Identify Mold in an Environment
People concerned about a mold allergy can test their home with “do it yourself” test kits. In most cases, the type of mold and how much of it is present depends on the type of tests performed and samples collected.
Many over the counter remedies exist for allergy symptoms with some more effective than others. People who have persistent symptoms should seek the advice of a doctor. Medical treatment is necessary for problems affecting the immune system. It is also important to seek professional mold remediation to get to the root cause of the allergies in the home.