Symptoms of a Mold Allergy
Mold allergy or an allergic reaction to various types of mold produce symptoms that are like other types of upper respiratory allergies. Effects of allergic rhinitis caused by exposure to mold can include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Cough and postnasal drip
- Eye, nose and throat irritation
- Dry, scaly skin
Mold allergy symptoms range from mild to severe depending on the person. Some people can have year-round symptoms, while other people are affected with flare ups only during certain times of the year. Damp weather conditions are a usual suspect that can produce mold allergy symptoms. Both indoor and outdoor spaces with high concentrations of mold can also be the culprit. In fact, people spend up to 90% of their time indoors and breathe about 3,000 gallons of air day. 1 out of 6 people who suffer from allergies do so as a direct result of mold and bacteria in their HVAC system. So, poor indoor air quality is a big contributing factor in mold allergy.
Asthma and Mold Allergy
People with asthma are often also extremely allergic to mold. In some people a severe asthma attack can be triggered by mold spores. Symptoms of a mold allergy asthma attack can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Wheezing and coughing
A recent study has shown that workers in the U.S. miss around 14 million days per year because of asthma which is common triggered by inferior indoor air quality.
Causes of a Mold Allergy
Mold allergy symptoms are generally triggered by an overly sensitive response by the immune system. The body recognizes inhaled mold spores as foreign invaders and develops antibodies, that cause allergy symptoms, to fight them.
After the initial exposure to mold has passed, the body will continue to produce antibodies to defend itself from this invader. So, future contact with the same mold will cause the immune system to react in the same way. This ongoing battle triggers the release of substances like histamines, which cause the mold allergy symptoms listed above.
Molds commonly occur in both inside and outside environments. While there are many kinds of mold, only certain types can cause mold allergy. Some of the most common molds that cause allergies include alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium. People who are allergic to one type of mold might not be allergic to another type or all other molds. It depends on the individual immune system.
How to Identify Mold in an Environment
There are a few ways to find out both the qualitative and quantitative presence of mold in certain environments. In the case of outdoor mold many television news programs report the relative levels of mold outside through their weather reports. There are also many weather-related websites that report more comprehensive data sets.
The presence of mold in indoor environments is another matter. There are indoor air quality firms who have building scientists that will come to a residential or commercial building and test for mold. They collect data in a variety of ways taking both air and surface samples from throughout the building including the HVAC system. People concerned about a mold allergy can also test their home or office with “do it yourself” test kits. In most cases, the type of mold and how much of it is present can be determined depending on the type of tests performed and samples collected.
Beyond Identifying a Mold Allergy
There are many over the counter remedies for allergy symptoms. Some more effective than others. People who have persistent symptoms that correlate to a mold allergy should seek the advice of a doctor. Just as seeking medical treatment relative to the immune system is important, so too should professional mold remediation be sought if an issue is found in either a residential building or commercial facility.