What is Mold Allergy?

Mold AllergyMold is a microscopic organism commonly referred to as fungus. It thrives on animal and plant waste matter, dead leaves wood and paper. Within the house it grows in basements, drip trays and rubber gaskets of the refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, air conditioner, humidifiers, mattresses and furniture. Mold grows by releasing tiny spores in the air that germinate under damp conditions. You may have seen mold grow on moist bread and stale food. We may inhale mold spores from time to time from the atmosphere without any reaction. However, only some people are allergic to molds and may develop an allergic reaction upon exposure. Here is a complete overview of mold allergy.

 

Mechanism of a mold allergy
A mold essentially germinates through spores scattered in the air. These microscopic spores enter a person’s air passage and cause allergy. The mold allergens attach themselves to the Ig E on mast cells, that causes the body to produce histamine. So the next time when the body receives exposure to mold, it produces an allergic reaction.

Mold Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of mold allergy are similar to other types of upper respiratory allergic reactions.

  • The person exhibits sneezing, wheezing, watery eyes and running nose.
  • One may suffer from cold or asthma- like exacerbations and stuffy nose.
  • Allergic rash or hives may develop.
  • A person may develop allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis or sinusitis in response to a mold allergy.
  • A person rarely gets anaphylaxis due to a mold allergy.

Symptoms of mold allergy differ from one person to another, and may range from mild to severe. You may have symptoms throughout the year or symptoms may appear at certain times of the year. You can observe symptoms when weather is damp or you are in outdoor or indoor spaces which have high amounts of mold.

If you have asthma and suffering from mold allergy, then the symptoms of asthma become peak which include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing

One should familiarize themselves with mold allergy symptoms, as one can tell if they are suffering from it. Accordingly, they can take precautions.

What Precautions to Take?
Mold allergy peaks in summer but indoor mold can cause allergy throughout the year. It is not possible to avoid exposure to molds. However, you can minimize an allergic reaction by staying away from certain foods.

  • Always examine the food for mold growth before you eat it.
  • Avoid eating stale food and foods like mushroom and yeast that may contain mold spores.
  • Other sources of mold include cheese, sour cream, sour milk, fish or meat more than a day old, soy sauce, vinegar, salad dressings with vinegar, pickles, dried fruits , hot dogs, sauerkraut and tinned juices.

Mold Allergy Treatments

The best treatment for any allergic reaction is to take steps for avoiding exposure to allergens. However, molds are very common and one cannot avoid them completely. Moreover, there is no cure for allergic reaction to mold. Several medications are available for treating the symptoms. These medications include:

  • Nasal Corticosteroids: Nasal corticosteroids are nasal sprays which help in preventing and treating the inflammation triggered by the upper respiratory mold allergy. Most of the people suffering from mold allergy use this and it is very effective in treating the condition. This is the first medication prescribed by the physicians. For instance, ciclesonide (Omnaris), mometasone (Nasonex), fluticasone (Flonase Veramyst) and beclomethasone (Beconase) are the most effective nasal corticosteroids. The most common side effect with nasal corticosteroids is nose bleeding. Generally, these medicines are best for long term use.
  • Decongestants: Decongestants are available in over the counter and prescription nasal sprays, liquids and tablets. Over the counter oral decongestants such as Drixoral, Sudafed and Actifed can also be used. Nasal sprays may include oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylphrine (Neo-Synephrine). If you have high blood pressure, avoid decongestants because they increase the blood pressure levels. Never use a decongestant nasal spray for more than 2 to 3 days at a time because it may trigger rebound congestion if used for prolonged periods.
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines give relief from runny nose, itching and sneezing. They block the histamine. Histamine is a chemical released by the immune system of the body during any allergic reaction. Over the counter antihistamines include cetirizine (Zyrtec) and loratadine (Alavert, Claritin). Older antihistamines like clemastine (Tavist) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) also work effectively, but they may make you feel drowsy. A nasal spray azelastine (Astelin) and fexofenadine (Allegra) can be obtained by prescription.
  • Cromolyn (NasalCrom): Cromolyn is available as an over the counter nasal spray. It helps in giving relief from the symptoms of mold allergy by preventing the production of histamine by the immune system. Cromolyn is very effective if you start using this medication before the symptoms develop.
  • Montelukast: This is a prescription medication taken for blocking the action of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are the chemicals released by the immune system which trigger allergy symptoms like excess mucus. This medication is very effective in curing asthma caused by allergic reaction and also very effective in treating mold allergies. Like antihistamines, montelukast is not very effective like inhaled corticosteroids. It is often used if the nasal sprays cannot be tolerated or to treat mild asthma.

Other Treatment Options for Mold Allergy:

  • Nasal Lavage: To get relief from irritating nasal symptoms, your health care provider may suggest you to rinse the nose with salt water. You may prepare salt water solution at home or can get an over the counter nasal saline solution. To prepare salt water solution at home, mix 3 heaping tablespoons of salt which does not contain any iodine to a tablespoon of baking soda in a container that you can seal. Take a tablespoon of this mixture and mix it with eight ounces of water to prepare saline solution. If you experience stinging or burning sensation, use less amounts of this mixture next time.
  • Immunotherapy: A series of allergy shots are given in this treatment. Virtually, it eliminates certain allergies, like hay fever. Unfortunately, allergy shots are moderately effective against allergic reactions to mold.

If you have hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, allergic fungal sinusitis and mold induced asthma, physician may prescribe additional mold allergy treatments.

Natural Remedies for Mold Allergy
Go in for a natural remedy for mold allergy. Here are a few of them which you can try:

  • Herbs: These can be taken fresh from the garden or as a pill supplement. Ginger, for example, is an anti-inflammatory which helps glands and passages in lessening swelling. This is useful in breathing, swollen sinuses and achy bodies. Garlic, wild oregano and love leaf are anti-fungal, which kill the mold existing in the body. They deal with source directly, rather than the symptoms.
  • Foods: Yogurt that contains live cultures fights off the yeast in the body, which normally molds feed on. Tomatoes and oranges and foods containing more of Vitamin C help the body to fight off the mold and reduce the symptoms. If one eats less wheat and sugar, as the mold interacts with them, a less appealing environment is created for the mold, thus preventing the mold from spreading in the body.
  • Painkillers: Pau d’ arco, a tropical tree in South America is an anti-inflammatory as well as a natural pain-killer that gets rid of the fungi and enhances the power of the immune system.
  • Decongestants: Vapor-rubs, vaporizers, saline solutions as well as other decongestants clear out the sinuses, throat, lungs and breathing passages. One can boil some water and steam the face, and can also add eucalyptus to the water. Ice packs can be placed on the inflamed areas. This is very effective if one alternates steam and heat on the same area.
  • A de-humidifier is useful for cleaning and stabilizing the air.

Preventive Measures for Mold Allergy:
In order to keep symptoms of mold allergy at bay, follow these measures.

  • Wear a dust mask over the mouth and nose for keeping the mold spores out when you are raking leaves, working around compost or mowing the lawn.
  • Do not go outdoors at certain times like in damp or foggy weather, immediately after a rainstorm or when mold concentration is high.
  • Close your windows when you are sleeping. The airborne mold spores count can be high during nights when weather is damp and cool.

These are the best options to reducing your exposure to mold spores. Mold allergies can be taken care of with the right type of treatment and precautionary measures. One can go in for the natural remedies as well as with the help of medicines available over the counter.