Mold is a type of fungus that is found nearly everywhere, both indoors and outdoors. Everyone is exposed to mold, and for most people, that isn't a problem. Other people are allergic to mold, and for them, mold's constant presence can be distressing. Here are three things you need to know about mold allergies.
How do you know you're allergic to mold?
Mold allergies can cause a lot of different symptoms. People with mold allergies can experience cold-like symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose. Some people suffer from eye symptoms like itchy or watery eyes after coming in contact with mold. Skin symptoms like rashes or hives can also occur as the result of a mold allergy.
If you think you're allergic to mold, your allergist will need to do a skin prick test to diagnose your allergy. This is a very simple test. Your allergist will prick your skin and then apply mold allergens to the site. If you get an itchy, red bump in that spot, you have a mold allergy. If you don't react, your allergist will need to test you for other possible allergens to figure out what the problem is.
How can you avoid mold?
It's impossible to completely avoid mold, since it's ubiquitous in nature, but there are some things you can do to minimize your exposure to it. Purchase an air purifier with a HEPA filter and put it in your bedroom or other rooms where you spend a lot of time. You should keep your windows closed at night when the concentration of mold spores in the air is higher. Avoid eating foods that are likely to contain mold, such as cheese, bread, or dried fruits. If you need to do outdoor activities that could expose you to mold, like mowing the lawn or raking leaves, wear a dust mask.
Can mold allergies be treated?
The uncomfortable symptoms associated with mold allergies can be treated with medications like nasal corticosteroids or antihistamines. These treatments won't cure your mold allergy, but they can help you deal with the discomfort.
If you don't want to take medications long-term, you may be able to get immunotherapy treatment. During this treatment, you'll be injected with mold allergens to help your body build up a resistance. You'll need to get at least one injection a week for up to six months, so if you're scared of needles, you may want to stick to your antihistamines. For people who don't mind needles, this treatment can effectively reduce or stop your mold allergy symptoms.
Mold allergies are hard to live with since mold is everywhere. If you think you're allergic to mold, talk to an allergist at a center like Allergy Asthma & Immunology Associates to see which treatments are best for you.