If your family has allergies like mine does all year round, you could be allergic to mold spores. And unfortunately molds are everywhere, so you’ll need to take the necessary steps to get rid of mold in your home in order to minimize your family’s allergies. The first thing you should do however is identify whether you are dealing with an allergy caused by mold or if it’s something else.
Is It An Allergy Caused By Mold?
Mold, also known as fungus, generally causes an allergic reaction when the spores of it are inhaled. Most of us who are allergic to mold often experience allergy symptoms during the summer months. However, if your home has a serious mold problem allergies can occur year round.
There are literally thousands of different types of mold growing around us but, there are basically 12 types that can cause allergies. They are, Alternaria, Aspergillus, Aureobasidium, Cladosporium, Epicoccum, Fusarium, Helmin thosporium, Penicillium, Mucor, and Rhizopus.
Most people who are allergic to mold are also allergic to other substances like animal dander and pollen. However, there are also people who are only allergic to specific types of mold. And those who experience allergies often have a family history of them. However, you can also be at risk if you’ve been exposed to mold whether at your work or at home.
Those who are allergic to the fungi may experience symptoms such as dry skin, congestion, itching, nasal discharge, sneezing and watery eyes. Everyone’s allergy symptoms will vary and they may range from mild to severe. Allergy symptoms may only flare up during certain times of the year or they may be present year-round.
When allergies are severe they may also cause asthma. And in some cases mold may cause a severe asthma attack. But they can also cause a serious illness known as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. When an allergy such as this or a severe asthma attack happens, a doctor should be seen immediately.
Treating a Mold Allergy
The allergy symptoms can easily be treated as long as they are not severe. In general allergy sufferers should avoid contact with the mold spores. Always wear some form of protection such as a dust mask and goggles if you must be near mold. For most allergy sufferers a simple decongestant or antihistamine can relieve many of the symptoms. For our household, we use a nasal spray and sometimes an over the counter allergy medication when our symptoms flare up. However, for some allergy sufferers this simply isn’t enough.
Removing Mold from Your Home
In order to reduce the allergy symptoms, you need to remove the mold that is causing the problem in your home. If you live in a home that has excess amounts of moisture or you live in an area where the humidity is high you most likely have mold growing somewhere in your home. And just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. This type of fungi can grow almost anywhere including in the attic, behind walls, wallpaper and even under your carpet.
To reduce a mold outbreak, look for sources where growth may occur. Check for leaky faucets, pipes, and other moisture prone areas, and repair them. Remove mold growth from drywall, carpet, crawl space areas, attics and other areas were molds may be a problem. Remove carpet for moisture problem areas such as your bathroom and kitchen. Consider paint in your bathroom and kitchen wall rather than applying wallpaper.
Install exhaust fans whenever possible or open windows when you plan to do a lot of cooking and when showering. Consider investing in dehumidifiers to minimize moisture in the air. A dehumidifier is especially helpful in basements.
Install HEPA filter attachments in central air units and air conditioners. HEPA filters can help trap spores from the mold and prevent them from entering your home. Also, be sure and change the filters on your furnace and air conditioners on a regular basis.
Keep the shower and bathtub clean on a weekly basis with a mold and mildew cleaner. Avoid using bleach since it doesn’t penetrate below the surface of the problem and the chemicals can irritate your lungs.
Clean garbage cans often to prevent moisture and food particles from building up and giving mold a place to grow. Use a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter to clean up as much dust as possible from your carpets.
And finally, don’t forget to reduce outdoor problem areas by removing mold from the outside of your home as well. Keep leaves and any dead vegetation away from the foundation of your home and out of the gutters. And try to keep shading to a minimum since it can lead to moisture problems that can turn the perfect breeding grounds for mold and keep your allergies flared up year-round.