Mold can be found everywhere—they can be outdoors, in your home, and in places you visit. The fungus likes damp environments and produces spores that can become airborne. It needs four things to grow: air, water, food, and appropriate temperature. If you have a mold allergy, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores. A mold allergy can make you cough, make your eyes itch and cause other symptoms that make you miserable. In some people, mold allergy is linked to asthma and exposure causes restricted breathing and other airway symptoms.
If you have a mold allergy, the best defense is to reduce your exposure to the types of mold that cause your reaction. Medications can help keep mold allergy reactions under control.
Causes of Mold Allergy
Like any allergy, mold allergy symptoms are triggered by an overly sensitive immune system response. When you inhale tiny, airborne mold spores, your body recognizes them as foreign invaders and develops allergy-causing antibodies to fight them.
After the exposure has passed, you still produce antibodies that “remember” this invader so that any later contact with the mold causes your immune system to react. This reaction triggers the release of substances such as histamine, which cause itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and other mold allergy symptoms.
Molds are very common both inside and outside. There are many types of mold, but not all kinds of mold cause allergies. Being allergic to one type of mold doesn’t necessarily mean you are allergic to another. Some of the most common molds that cause allergies include alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium.
Mold Allergy Symptoms
People with a mold allergy will experience symptoms similar to those caused by other airborne allergens like pollen and dust. If you are allergic to mold, your immune system will be overly sensitive to specific spores and in turn will trigger symptoms. High mold levels can also exacerbate asthma symptoms in asthmatics sensitive to mold.
Common mold allergy symptoms may include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes, nose, mouth, and lips
Is Mold the Cause for Your Symptoms?
Molds are fungi whose spores float through the air we all breathe. However, only some people will react when exposed to specific mold spores. The most common allergy-causing molds include Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium. The best way to know if mold is causing your symptoms is with an allergy skin test.
When Are Mold Levels High
Mold spores are microscopic and cannot be seen except under a microscope. They can be found in soil, piles of cut grass and leaves, and decomposing wood. Because mold grows year-round, mold allergies are not as seasonal as other allergens. However, when the weather is warm and moist. In southern climates like here in Georgia, mold spores are present year-round.
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