Mold allergies are caused by breathing in the spores of fungi that are in the air. For some people, these do not cause any problems. However, for those that are allergic to mold, symptoms can range from irritating to debilitating.
When you have a mold allergy, your immune system reacts to the mold as though it were a disease-causing organism. The body’s immune system then works to eliminate the supposed threat.
There are hundreds of types of molds but only a few are known to cause allergy symptoms. Molds that can cause allergies include (but are not limited to) species in the Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium and Penicillium families.
Some of the initial symptoms that can be attributed to a mold allergy include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Cough and postnasal drip
- Itchy eyes, nose and throat
- Watery eyes
- Dry, scaly skin
Depending on the type of mold and the degree to which you are exposed may determine how severe your symptoms are. Molds can also cause problems for asthma sufferers including: shortness of breath, chest tightening, wheezing, and coughing.
Outdoor molds are most likely to cause allergy sufferers problems in summer and fall. However, indoor molds can cause symptoms year-round. If you have more severe symptoms when you enter your home or business than when you are outside, you may have an indoor mold problem.
When Mold Is More Than Allergies
The same molds that cause allergy symptoms can also be responsible for releasing mycotoxins into the air. Mycotoxins are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by certain types of mold. Molds that can produce these toxins are not a specific color and cannot be identified by sight.
You may have heard that ‘black mold’ is the most toxic. This is not necessarily the case, as molds of all colors (brown, green, tan, black, etc.) can be toxic. Mycotoxins can be produced by molds under certain environmental conditions, and it is not possible to know if you have a toxic mold without laboratory testing.
However, if it is in your home and making you feel bad, it is toxic!
Now That I Know I Am Allergic, What Do I Do?
1 – Clean what you can see.
Not all molds are easy to see. They can hide under sinks, behind drywall, in washing machines! Do you best to clean what you see.
You may be able to clean surface mold on the walls, ceilings or floors of your home by using gentle detergents and water. Be sure to spray all surfaces when cleaning and use damp cleaning supplies. Dry wiping just spreads mold spores and causes more problems.
Avoid using vacuum cleaners on mold, unless you have a HEPA filter installed.
2 – Prevent new growth.
Prevention is worth 9/10 of the cure! By preventing an allergy or asthma attack, you can reduce your need for medical interventions such as antihistamines, cortisone shots, eye drops, and nasal sprays. Keep your home free of mold by preventing mold growth.
Indoor mold growth can be prevented by simply controlling moisture and controlling humidity indoors. Anywhere in your home that has a water leak or too much moisture can cause mold growth. Look for places where moisture could build-up, and mold can grow, such as around sinks, showers, toilets, and air conditioner drains. Keep them clean by using a non-toxic cleaner often.
To prevent mold growth in your bathroom: ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! Use the bathroom fan before, during, and after showering, to remove moisture from the room.
Keep rugs dry, and wash rugs and towels regularly to prevent mold growth.
To prevent mold growth in your kitchen: ventilate, ventilate, ventilate! Use an exhaust fan while cooking that vents to the outdoors when cooking. Keep garbage cans clean by washing with dish soap outdoors. Be sure to let the can completely dry before adding a new plastic bag.
Quickly repair plumbing leaks. Clean refrigerator drip pans and door gaskets and be sure they seal properly.
For other rooms: Clean moist places in your home at least once per month with a non-toxic cleaning solution. Dehumidifiers may also be helpful to reduce moisture in your home.
Air-conditioner filters should be changed every 3 months.
For a comprehensive list of mold prevention methods go to https://www.aafa.org/mold-allergy
3 – Get a professional inspection if you suspect the problem may be more than an isolated area.
If you see areas larger than about ten square feet, or there is a musty smell you can’t identify, it may be time to call a professional.
Mold is a tricky thing and can hide in unlikely places. The presence of mold can also indicate larger issues in your home.
A professional mold inspection can ensure your problem is solved and not just covered up.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants. We can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
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