Mold allergies can affect you at any time of the year; therefore it can be pretty difficult to predict when it will strike. Mold can be found everywhere, both indoors and outdoors, so it is almost impossible to avoid. Mold usually grows in damp, poorly ventilated spaces. Inside the home, they are likely to be found in the closet and basement. While outdoors, they are prevalent in areas where water has been left to stagnate.
Mold allergies are the result of the immune system’s reaction to mold spores that have been inhaled. There are several varieties of mold, although they do not all cause allergies. The mold spores that tend to cause an allergic reaction include: alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium, which are all indoor molds. It is often possible for an individual to be allergic to one type of mold, but have no reaction at all to another.
Exposure to mold will trigger an exaggerated response from a very sensitive immune system. The body will begin to fight the mold by producing antibodies and proteins like histamine. Histamine is a chemical that is released by the immune system in response to allergens. It is the production of this chemical that leads to the symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
As with many other allergies, mold affects the upper respiratory system. Other symptoms of mold allergy include coughing, postnasal drip, itchy nose and throat, and a stuffy nose.
There are persons who experience very mild symptoms, but this is not always the case, as mold allergy can be severe enough to trigger an asthma attack. The symptoms become more acute, when there is exposure to spaces that have a high concentration of mold, as well as during times of damp weather. Also, some individuals have symptoms at specific times during the year, while others have them year-round.
The best way to prevent allergic attacks is by reducing exposure to the allergen. However, in the case of mold, this can be somewhat difficult, as mold can be found in so many places. As a result, medication is sometimes necessary to treat mold allergies, and keep the symptoms in check. It is always recommended that you consult a physician before taking any medication, so that you are aware of the possible side effects.
Mold allergies can be treated with the use of over-the-counter medication, as well as prescription drugs. Antihistamines like Claritin and Benadryl are very beneficial in reducing symptoms like itching, runny nose, and sneezing, and they do not require a prescription.
For persons suffering with inflammation due to mold allergy, there are nasal sprays like Nasonex and Beconase, which can provide relief. These are available by prescription only. Over-the-counter decongestants, such as Actifed and Sudafed, are also useful. In addition, a homemade saltwater solution can be very helpful in treating nasal congestion.
Alternative remedies include immunotherapy. This involves taking a series of allergy shots. The shots are given at regular intervals, so that your body will get used to the allergen and stop overreacting to them.
There have been cases where the symptoms of mold allergies flare up when certain foods are eaten, especially those containing yeast. For persons who have such a reaction, it is best to leave those out of the diet altogether. While it is not possible eradicate mold, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms of an allergic reaction.