You may think only pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds are responsible for your seasonal allergies. But mold is another likely culprit from spring to late fall.
There are thousands of types of mold, a microscopic fungi, but only a small number are known to cause allergies. Molds use spores to reproduce, and when inhaled these spores can cause an allergic reaction.
The mold season peaks from July to late summer. Mold growing indoors can trigger mold allergies year-round. Though uncommon, some with a mold allergy may experience a reaction due to eating certain foods such as cheeses and mushrooms.
Symptoms of mold allergy
“Mold allergies typically cause symptoms such as sinus headache, nasal congestion, and post-nasal drip,” says Dr. Beth Miller, director of the UK HealthCare Asthma, Allergy and Sinus Clinic. “One type of outdoor mold has been also associated with exacerbations of asthma during the fall.”
Outdoor mold can be found in moist, shady areas such as on rotting logs and fallen leaves. Indoor mold thrives in moist environments such as bathrooms and damp basements. Homes with flood damage, leaky roofs, and plumbing leaks are especially prone to mold. If you can smell a musty odor or see visible mold growth, you should take appropriate steps to clean the area.
Mold allergy treatments
Treatments for mold allergies include:
• Drying wet environments and dehumidifying.
• Medicines such as nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, decongestants, and leukotriene modifiers.
• Allergy shots: for those allergic to mold, it can be included in the shot serum.
Mold counts may be somewhat helpful in gauging your daily allergy symptoms, but should not be relied upon entirely. Mold counts can change considerably with the weather day to day and even from day to night. The best course of action: see your physician if you think you may have a mold allergy.
If you’d like help finding a doctor or want to make an appointment, call UK HealthCare at (859) 257-1000 or (800) 333-8874. Additional online information and resources on mold and allergies can be found at www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu.
WHERE INDOOR MOLD LIVES
Mold lives in moist conditions where there is oxygen and other chemicals. Places indoors where you can find mold may include:
• damp basements and closets
• food storage areas
• refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers
• house plants
• air conditioners and humidifiers
• upholstered furniture
• garbage containers