Many people with allergies only experience symptoms on a seasonal basis. They may be allergic to grasses or pollens and only have to worry about flare-ups when those allergens are in season. People who are sniffling and sneezing all year around, however, are likely to have an allergy to mold, sometimes in addition to a pollen or grass allergy.
Thousands of different types of mold exist (although only a few cause allergic reactions) and they tend to be “in season” all year. Molds also tend to be more broadly spread out than other types of allergens. They can live indoors and outdoors. If you think you are dealing with a mold allergy, here’s what you need to know.
What Are the Symptoms of Mold Allergies?
In many ways, the symptoms of mold allergies are similar to the symptoms caused by other types of allergies. If you are allergic to a mold, exposure to it can cause nasal symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and postnasal drip. Other symptoms of a mold allergy may include watery, itchy eyes, a sore throat, and a cough.
Some people also experience itchy or dry skin after exposure to a mold. Mold allergies can trigger asthma in some people. In that case, symptoms can include a feeling of tightness in the chest, trouble taking in a deep breath, and wheezing.
When your symptoms occur often depends on the type of mold you’re allergic to. People with indoor mold allergies often have symptoms all year. People who are allergic to molds that are mainly found outdoors tend to see the worst symptoms between summer and fall. Depending on the climate in your area, it’s possible to have symptoms from an outdoor mold allergy all year around.
How Can You Reduce Symptoms from Mold Allergies?
As with other allergies, avoiding mold can help you manage and reduce your symptoms. Depending on the type of mold you are allergic to, there are a few ways you can reduce your exposure. If indoor molds are the issue, it can help to make your home less hospitable to mold growth. In a warm, humid climate, using an air conditioner or dehumidifier indoors will help to reduce the moisture levels inside your home so that mold is less likely to grow.
In areas of the home that are naturally more humid than others, such as the bathroom and kitchen, it helps to be particularly diligent. Use a fan in the bathroom during and after showers to remove moisture from the air. In the kitchen, dry dishes and wipe up spills right away so that mold doesn’t have a chance to start growing.
If outdoor molds are the problem, it’s also a good idea to limit your exposure to them. Outdoor molds tend to thrive in damp, dark areas. Piles of leaves, rotting wood, and decaying plants are some of their favorite places to live. You can reduce your exposure to outdoor molds by limiting the amount of yard work you do. If you have to work outside, wearing a mask can help you avoid breathing in mold spores.
Can You Treat Mold Allergies?
Although avoiding exposure to mold is often the best way to reduce symptoms, it’s not always possible to do so. Fortunately, there are ways to manage symptoms and treat mold allergies. Antihistamines and other allergy medications can help to reduce your body’s reaction to the mold. Decongestants can help to make symptoms a little more bearable.
If mold regularly interferes with your life, you might consider treatment with immunotherapy, which can help to alleviate the symptoms of certain types of mold allergies. During immunotherapy, you receive an injection of the substance you are allergic to, usually on a weekly basis, over the course of a year. The regular injection helps your body build up a defense to the allergen, reducing the reaction when you are exposed.
Immunotherapy can be effective for all types of mold allergies, which is why it is important to have an allergy test first to confirm or discover what you are allergic to.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience in helping patients with sinus problems and allergies in the Hudson Valley. A double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allows him to address both the aesthetics and the functionality of the nose. Dr. Rubinstein is certified through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. If you’re interested in learning more about mold allergies and how you can treat them, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.