Everything About Mold Allergy (Types, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention Etc.)
If you live in Florida, chances are you’re no stranger to the humid and damp climate that can make your home a breeding ground for mold. As if the heat and humidity weren’t enough to contend with, mold growth can also trigger mold allergy symptoms that can make life uncomfortable.
Mold allergy is a common condition that affects many people worldwide, and it’s caused by exposure to mold spores, which are tiny airborne particles that can trigger an allergic reaction in some people.
In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into what is mold allergy, the symptoms, causes, and treatment of mold allergy, as well as share some tips on preventing mold growth in your home. So, let’s get started!
What Is Mold Allergy?
Mold allergy is a type of allergic reaction that occurs when your immune system overreacts to mold spores in the air. Mold is a type of fungus that grows in damp and humid environments, and it can be found both indoors and outdoors.
When you inhale mold spores, your immune system can mistakenly identify them as harmful invaders, triggering an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of mold allergy can range from mild to severe and can include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and even skin rash or hives. For those with asthma, exposure to mold spores can also lead to wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Types of Mold
Did you know that there are a variety of molds that can impact your health and potentially trigger mold allergies? It’s true! From black mold to aspergillus, the type of mold can make all the difference in how it affects your well-being.
Let’s dive into the details about these pesky fungi and what you can do to protect yourself and your home.
Appearance: It starts as a small, moist mold and turns into a powdery substance. It is often pink, grey, orange, or white.
Where To Find It: Usually grows in residential systems like humidifiers, cooling coils, drain pans, and window sealants. It has also been observed growing with strachybotrys (black mold) and other organisms.
Health Effects: Exposure to this type of mold is dangerous. Risks can include bone marrow and immune system diseases, as well as impaired brain function.
Appearance: Has a velvety texture with “dark green or brown hairs”.
Where To Find It: Alternaria alternata is a ubiquitous saprophyte that is found in the soil and on plants, especially on decaying vegetation.
Health Effects: Exposure to the fungus Alternaria alternata is an important risk factor for asthma and allergic rhinitis. Severe asthma and acute, sometimes life-threatening exacerbations of asthma have been associated with Alternaria sensitivity and increased airborne concentrations of Alternaria spores.
Appearance: Aspergillus appears as septated hyphae with acute angle branching and can be mistaken for other filamentous molds. It has more than 185 species, it comes in various colors like yellow, violet, yellow-green to brown and dark sclerotia.
Where To Find It: Aspergillus can be considered a common indoor mold as it includes a few hundred different species. Depending on the species they can grow in a variety of places including walls, ceilings, crawlspaces, subflooring, HVAC systems, and more.
Health Effects: According to Mayoclinic, Aspergillus can invade areas of your body other than your lungs, such as your sinuses. In your sinuses, the fungus can cause a stuffy nose sometimes accompanied by drainage that may contain blood. Fever, facial pain, and headache may also occur.
4) Aureobasidium (Black Yeast)
Appearance: Normally a pink, brown, or black color, but as it ages, it typically becomes a darker brown.
Where To Find It: Aureobasidium pullulans require high levels of available water to grow; it is commonly found growing indoors on surfaces that are continually damp, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, on shower curtains, tile grout, window sills, and frames.
Health Effects: It colonizes eye, skin, and nail infections. It has been implicated clinically as causing skin and soft tissue infections, meningitis, splenic abscesses and peritonitis.
Appearance: This cotton-like textured mold usually begins as white in color, and eventually darkens with time, from gray to brown to black.
Where To Find It: Normally in buildings that are very water-damaged, specifically your roof, basement, pipes, and drywall. Watch out for a musty smell.
Health Effects: It Could be a prominent cause of skin and nail infections
Appearance: Cladosporium has dark mycelia which may be brown to blackish-brown or gray-green in color.
Where To Find It: Found frequently in carpets, fabrics, upholsteries, wood floors, and cabinets
Health Effects: Exposure to Cladosporium affects people in different ways. Some people may develop an allergic reaction, while others may not. An allergic reaction to mold may become serious in some cases. Severe reactions include serious asthma attacks, allergic fungal sinusitis, etc.
Appearance: Pink, white, or red.
Where To Find It: Typically found in carpet, wallpaper, and other fabrics. It naturally grows on food, and it spreads quickly.
Health Effects: Skin infections and allergic reaction symptoms. In a long-term severe situation, the toxins can damage nervous systems and lead to potential hemorrhaging and internal bleeding.
Appearance: White or gray in color, grows in thick patches quickly
Where To Find It: Near A/C units, HVAC ducts and vents, and old & damp carpets where there’s moisture from condensation.
Health Effects: Asthma and/or flu-like symptoms. In severe cases, it can cause mucormycosis—a fungal infection, which can damage and infect your eyes, nose, sinuses, lungs, and brain.
Appearance: Bluish or greenish in color with a velvet-like texture.
Where To Find It: Water-damaged buildings—particularly in mattresses, ducts, wallpaper, and carpets.
Health Effects: Although antibiotics are produced from it, these mold spores may readily circulate through the air and be inhaled, causing respiratory difficulties, pulmonary inflammation, asthma, and even chronic sinusitis.
10) Stachybotrys (Black Mold)
Appearance: Dark green or black, with a slimy texture.
Where To Find It: Areas that are damp, wet, and humid for weeks—including wood, cardboard, and wicker.
Health Effects: Severe health troubles (i.e. trouble breathing, fatigue, sinusitis, and depression), as well as neurological problems and pulmonary bleeding in children and infants.
Appearance: Usually white and green woolly patches, though there are 5 different sub-species.
Where To Find It: Wet fabrics, wallpaper, carpet, and other surfaces, as well as moist areas where condensation has built up (i.e. A/C filters and HVAC ducts)
Health Effects: Most Trichoderma molds are non-pathogenic, but other types produce mycotoxins, which can cause sinusitis, allergic reactions, and other health problems.
Appearance: Typically black in color. Can be medium brown to olivaceous, or black and verrucose.
Location: Often found in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and windows where there is extreme water damage or levels of high condensation.
Risks: Can cause severe reactions like hay fever, skin infections, asthma symptoms, and trouble breathing.
Appearance: Brown to dark brown, erect, parallel-walled, and ceasing to elongate when the terminal conidium is formed.
Location: More commonly found in warmer climates.
Risks: It doesn’t cause that much harm to humans but it causes “Leaf blight” disease to plants.
Appearance: Colonies are fast-growing, suede-like to downy, with a strong yellow to orange-brown diffusible pigment.
Location: Found in grassland and agricultural areas.
Risks: Respiratory fungal allergies, including allergic asthma, rhinitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and allergic fungal sinusitis.
Appearance: Pale, rose, burgundy to bluish violet.
Location: Fusarium fungus is found indoors in carpet and mattress dust; damp walls, wallpaper; polyester polyurethane foam; insulating cotton in duct liner; water pipes, and humidifiers.
Risks: Impair intestinal health, immune function, and pathogen fitness, resulting in altered host-pathogen interactions and thus a different outcome of infection.
What Causes Mold Allergy?
Have you ever wondered what causes mold allergy? It all starts with breathing in tiny mold spores – microscopic particles that are released when mold reproduces.
These sneaky spores can easily float through the air and into your nose, causing an allergic reaction. But where does mold come from in the first place? Well, it can grow both inside and outside and needs moisture to thrive.
So if your home has any damp areas, like a leaky roof or a bathroom without proper ventilation, it could be a breeding ground for mold. And if you already have asthma or hay fever, you may be even more susceptible to developing a mold allergy.
Symptoms of Mold Allergy
Allergy symptoms of a mold allergy can resemble those of other types of respiratory allergies and may include:
- Runny nose or nasal congestion.
- Itchy eyes and/or throat.
- Coughing and sneezing.
- Skin rash
- Watery eyes
- Dry, scaly skin
If you have a mold allergy and asthma, your asthma symptoms can be triggered by exposure to mold spores. In some people, exposure to certain molds can cause severe effects of mold on health.
Signs and symptoms of asthma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
Long-term severe mycotoxin symptoms include:
- Pregnancy complications.
- Lung scarring (fibrosis) and/or bleeding.
- Diseases of nearly all body systems, including the digestive system, the immune system, and the nervous system.
- Problems with the liver, kidneys, and blood.
Knowing the symptoms of a black mold allergy will help you to determine if you are suffering from it.
Diagnosis of Mold Allergy
In addition to assessing your signs and symptoms, your doctor may do a physical check to uncover or rule out any medical conditions. The following tests are used to diagnose allergies:
Skin Prick Test
If you’re worried that you have contracted a mold allergy, your doctor might prescribe a skin prick test. During this test, diluted concentrations of common or suspected allergens, including molds found in your environment, are placed on your skin via tiny punctures.
If you’re allergic to any of these substances, your skin will react by forming a raised bump, often referred to as a hive, at the site of the test. Don’t worry though, the test is quick and relatively painless, and can help your doctor determine the best course of action to manage your allergies.
A blood test sometimes called the radioallergosorbent test, can measure your immune system’s response to mold by measuring the number of certain antibodies in your bloodstream known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies are produced by your immune system in response to mold exposure.
Diagnosis is very important if you are actually affected by it and to know the effects of mold on health and how you can prevent them.
Treatment of Mold Allergy
If you’ve been diagnosed with a mold allergy, you’re not alone. Mold allergies are a common type of allergic reaction that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe.
Fortunately, there are several treatment options available that can help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Depending on the severity of your allergy, the best treatment for mold allergy may include medications, immunotherapy, or simply avoiding mold exposure as much as possible.
In this part of the blog, we’ll explore the different treatment options available for mold allergies and help you determine the best course of action to manage your symptoms effectively.
Corticosteroid Nasal Spray
These nasal sprays assist in both preventing and treating the inflammation brought on by an allergic reaction to mold in the upper respiratory system. They are frequently the first medication administered because they are the most successful allergy medications for many patients possibly the best treatment for mold allergy.
These medications can ease runny nose, sneezing, and itching. They function by preventing the release of histamine, an inflammatory substance produced by your immune system in response to an allergic reaction.
If you have high blood pressure, stay away from OTC oral decongestants like Sudafed 12 Hour and Drixoral Cold and Allergy since they might cause blood pressure to rise (hypertension). Additional potential side effects include restlessness, anxiety, sleeplessness, appetite loss, and palpitations.
Nasal Decongestant Sprays
Avoid using these medications for longer than three to four days because stopping them suddenly can make congestion worse. Headaches, sleeplessness, and jitters are some more potential adverse effects.
Leukotrienes, immune system molecules that induce mold allergy symptoms, are blocked by the medication montelukast. Yet, there are issues with side effects, such as sleeplessness, sadness, and anxiety.
Prevention of Mold Allergy
Preventing mold allergy is key to managing your symptoms and maintaining good health. If you are wondering, how to prevent mold allergy? the best way would be to prevent mold growth is to keep your home dry and well-ventilated as mold thrives in damp and humid environments.
This means fixing any leaks or water damage immediately, using dehumidifiers to keep humidity levels below 60%, and using exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove excess moisture.
Additionally, regular cleaning and maintenance of your home, such as vacuuming carpets and upholstery, and using mold-resistant paint in damp areas like bathrooms, can also help prevent mold growth.
By taking proactive steps to prevent mold growth in your home, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing a mold allergy and improve your overall health and well-being.
Get The Mold Out
The first wise thing to do would be, to get a professional mold inspection and removal service in your home. They will carefully inspect your house and will remove mold from the core. This will save you from any indoor mold effects.
Sleep With Windows Closed
This will keep out outdoor mold spores from your body. The concentration of airborne mold spores tends to be greatest at night when the weather is cool and damp.
Make your home less inviting to mold. Controlling the air’s moisture levels is crucial. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers will be beneficial to control moisture.
A humidity level under 60% is required to keep molds away. It’s better to aim for between 35% and 50%. In a hardware store, you may purchase a cheap meter to measure the humidity in your house. Know more about how to remove mold from the air.
Wear A Mask
Wearing a mask will not only save you from the risks of mold but also other health benefits. This will minimize the chances of mold spores from getting into your nose and mouth.
Knowing What to Avoid and When to Avoid
Mold loves to grow in places where moisture and organic matter are abundant, like uncut fields and piles of damp leaves. If you can, it’s best to avoid these areas altogether. Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of the weather when planning your outdoor activities.
Try to avoid going outside just after rainfall, during foggy or damp weather, or when the mold count is high. When you do come back inside, make it a habit to shower and change your clothes as soon as possible.
This will help wash away any mold spores that may have hitched a ride on your skin and hair, reducing your risk of exposure and potential allergic reactions. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to mold allergies!
Myths About Mold Allergy Debunked
You Can Always Get Rid of Mold Yourself.
You might’ve heard that mold isn’t something dangerous and you should handle it yourself. This is a completely false statement.
According to the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA), a moldy area that is beyond 10 square feet should be handled by mold remediation experts.
Mold problems restricted to less than 10 square feet are categorized as level one and could be handled by yourself if only you have proper experience with it.
However, mold damage should be handled by professional services. Mold remediation experts have the necessary training and specialized equipment to restore your home environment without you getting exposed to mold and endangering yourself.
Only “Black Mold” Is Harmful.
It’s a common misconception that only black mold is cause for concern. However, this belief is rather unfounded and oversimplified.
Molds such as – green, blue, white, pink, or other colors can also be dangerous to your health.
Although many molds, including the well-known Stachybotrys Chartarum, have an appearance of being black, they are not the only molds that can create toxins that are dangerous to your health. The degree of toxicity of a mold is not affected by its color.
In actuality, some black molds don’t release poisons that are bad for your health. Regardless of color, you must take care of any mold growth in your house if you want to stay safe.
As we went through the various mold species we saw, we realized that every type of mold carries the risk of causing allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and even more severe health problems.
Painting Over Mold Will Eliminate It
Paint is a food source for mold and the mold will resurface when painted over. Many homeowners or landlords turn to paint over mold as a quick repair because they believe it to be inexpensive.
Mold will reappear if you paint over it, either in its original form or as cracked, bubbled, or chipped paint. Long-term costs may be higher than they would have been had mold cleanup services been sought in the first place.
Black Mold Can Grow Anywhere, Anytime
Mold growth only occurs when there is moisture; this could be from water damage, leaks, condensation, or flooding. Mold just doesn’t grow out anywhere. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding
Mold grows fastest between 77°F and 86°F with relative humidity above 55%. Mold dies at higher temperatures of 140-160 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature must stay over 140 degrees for up to 25 minutes to kill mold spores during heat treatment. Extreme cold temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius can kill mold spores or make them inactive.
Bleach Is Efficient In Getting Rid of Mold
Killing mold with bleach is not always efficient and has health risks. Bleach is made up of about 90 percent water. Moreover, since molds thrive with moisture, spraying bleach on mold can contribute to further mold growth.
While bleach can help remove mold from nonporous surfaces, it is uncertain that it can kill all kinds of mold or penetrate porous surfaces for a thorough removal.
Bleach can speed up the mold regrowth rate, mainly if the source of moisture is not addressed. It can also cause further degeneration of the material, thereby escalating the problem, but more importantly, exposing yourself to bleach can be dangerous to your health.
Using bleach as a routine practice to remove mold is particularly discouraged by the Environmental Protection Agency. For proper mold removal that goes beyond just cleaning away mold from the surface of a material, you should hire a professional mold remediation company
Mold Allergies Only Occur In Children And Sensitive Individuals
Almost anyone, regardless of age, health conditions, or level of sensitivity, can become unwell from prolonged exposure to huge amounts of mold spores.No study shows that mold only affects children.
Although children and particular groups of people, those who have a weakened immune system, often have more severe reactions to it. But this makes us forget that mold allergy could occur even after you have sound health. Mold affects slowly but it’s not bound by a particular group.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, indoor mold exposure can cause upper respiratory tract symptoms in healthy adults.
Molds Always Have A Musty Smell
Another widespread misconception is that mold can always be detected early on by odor. In actuality, you can’t.
Molds can occasionally be difficult to see, therefore smelling could be a good way to find them. Microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), which are typically highly concentrated and unpleasant, are what cause moldy odors.
Molds, however, may not always smell. Hence, it is not a good idea to rely solely on smell to detect mold in your house. Use your eyes and nose to inspect. Watch out for ugly fuzzy
discolorations as much as you follow your nose to the source of any offensive smell.
Mold Allergy vs. Other Allergies
According to the CDC, allergies are the sixth most common cause of chronic illness in the country. Each year, more than 50 million people experience allergic reactions. With over $18 billion in annual costs, allergies are a huge financial concern.
Although, they are two different types of allergies, seasonal and mold allergies can have symptoms that are extremely similar. What distinguishes mold allergies from seasonal allergies?
You are most likely one of the many individuals who suffer from allergies, whether they be seasonal allergies or different kinds including mold, food, medication, and animal allergies, to name a few.
While mold allergies typically strike when people are indoors and their windows are closed, seasonal allergies typically occur when people are outside or have their windows open. Mold allergies frequently flare up in the kitchen, bathroom, basement, and laundry areas.
To summarize, we knew details about mold allergy and how affects millions of individuals throughout the world. It can produce a variety of symptoms such as sneezing, itching, coughing, and, in severe cases, respiratory distress.
If you believe you have a mold allergy, you should seek medical assistance and get properly evaluated. After that, you should consult a professional mold remediation company to make your house safe from mold.
You may lessen your symptoms and live a healthy, mold-free life with the correct care and treatment. Remember that prevention is always preferable to treatment, so take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family from mold allergies.