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Mold Allergy Symptoms: What to Watch For

Molds are everywhere. They are fungi that spread and reproduce by spores.

Most of us are constantly exposed to some type of mold without even being aware of it, and with no problems. But, molds are among the most powerful allergens and can cause severe allergic reaction to some people.

Mold allergies are common, but have to be treated seriously. An untreated mold allergy can cause more serious health issues such as anaphylactic shock, sinus problems or frequent earache.

A Little Background On Mold Allergies

Allergies are an over-reaction of our immune system to some substance that is normally harmless. Once the immune system is alerted, inflammation usually results.

The inflammatory response can be a little uncomfortable (a skin rash), or it might be life-threatening (anaphylactic shock).

Allergies to mold are no different from allergies to other thing. Mold allergies differ in intensity from person to person. It has to be treated just like any other allergy.

People who are allergic to other environmental allergens such as smog or dust are more likely to be allergic to mold. Mold allergies can be particularly dangerous for people with asthma or some other respiratory ailment.

Mold Allergy Symptoms

In most cases, the allergic reaction to mold is immediate. The most common mold allergy symptoms are:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Tearing and red eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nose and throat itching
  • Skin rash
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sinus pressure

If the allergic symptoms are not treated and mold is not eliminated from an allergic person’s environment, an unpleasant allergic reaction could turn into a life-threatening anaphylactic shock.  Every year more than 1,000 people die in the US from anaphylactic shock.

It is very difficult to separate mold allergy symptoms from common cold symptoms. And often, it’s even more difficult to find out what is actually causing the reaction. If the symptoms keep coming back, try to figure out what might be causing it. Or, consult your doctor, who can conduct allergy tests.

Where Mold Lives

Some molds are capable of living just about anywhere. Most kinds of mold, however, prefer warm, moist, dark spaces where they feed on decomposing organic matter. You can find molds in libraries, attics, laundry rooms or closets. And they are happily living in our gardens and sun rooms.

We do not need to know which of the hundreds of thousands of types of mold we have in our environment. If anyone in our household is sensitive to them and has mold allergy, we need to get rid of as much mold as possible, limiting their exposure.

Preventing Mold Allergies by Eliminating the Mold

Make a general inspection of your home to look for telltale signs of mold. Look for dark spots.

These mold spots are most commonly found in humid spaces like bathrooms, showers and basements. There are a few common, but very effective actions you can do without much trouble:

  • Make sure all rooms are dry and well ventilated. In typically humid rooms such as bathrooms and laundry rooms, use a dehumidifier.
  • Check your closet. If clothes do not have space to breathe, they can get moldy, especially during damp and rainy weather. Install fan or dehumidifier if needed.
  • Throw away moldy carpets, clothes, or books. They’re not worth keeping around if they can make people feel ill.
  • Try using synthetic fabrics for clothing and household furnishings whenever possible.
  • Make sure bathrooms are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • If anyone in your family is asthmatic, he or she should not sleep in the basement. Humidity tends to accumulate here, creating the perfect environment for mold.

Mold Allergies from Food

Some foods contain molds on purpose. People pay good money for blue cheese, after all.

If you are suffering from a mold allergy, you should stay away from foods that might contain mold:

  • Cheese
  • Sour cream and butter milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Vinegar and pickled foods
  • Meat or fish older than 24 hours
  • Breads and anything else made with yeast
  • Sauerkraut
  • Smoked meat and sausages
  • Dried fruits
  • Soy sauce

Unfortunately, not much can be done to cure a mold allergy. All we can do is stay away from foods that might contain mold, eliminate mold from our environment, and carry an EPI-pen if anaphylactic shock is a danger.