Mold allergies are common. Unlike their seasonal allergy counterparts — tree, grass and ragweed pollen — mold is not killed off with the first frost. Instead, mold allergies can last year-round due to the mold’s ability to grow inside and outside your home. Fortunately, your symptoms can be treated with medication and even eliminated by avoiding contact with mold spores.
Understand Mold Allergies
Mold is a type of fungus that produces spores. These spores travel through the air, especially in dry and windy weather, and can be breathed in. Once in your lungs, your body produces a chemical called histamine to fight off the spores. Histamine causes telltale allergy symptoms, including:
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy eyes, nose and throat
- Watery eyes
- Dry skin
Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Diagnosing Mold Allergies
In order to determine what is causing your symptoms, your doctor will review your medical history and order a skin prick and blood tests.
Skin Prick Test
This type of test involves dropping an allergen extract on the surface of your skin. A lancet is placed through the drop of extract to penetrate the skin’s surface underneath. After 15 minutes, your reaction to the extract is measured. If a raised, red, itchy bump develops, this indicates an allergy to the substance.
Immunoglobin E (IgE) is an antibody produced by your body to protect against allergens. The more IgE in your blood, the more likely you are to be allergic to that specific allergen.
An allergy blood test determines the amount of mold-specific IgE in your blood and is conducted much the same a traditional blood test.
Mold Allergy Treatments
There are two ways to treat an allergy to mold — avoid exposure and take medications to decrease your symptoms.
Antihistamines and nasal steroids are available over the counter and do not require a prescription. Your doctor can help you determine which ones to purchase.
Decreasing your exposure to mold, both inside and outside of your home, can help prevent allergy symptoms from occurring.
For outdoor mold allergies:
- Limit your outdoor activities during days when mold counts are high
- Wear a mask when gardening, cutting grass or raking up leaves
For indoor mold allergies:
- Use central air conditioning with a filter specifically designed to decrease allergens
- Lower your indoor humidity
- Use your exhaust fans
- Fix any leaks
- Remove sources of dampness
- Improve airflow throughout your home
To learn more about preventing mold allergy symptoms or to schedule an appointment with an expert, contact Charleston ENT & Allergy today.