Is Mold Causing my Allergy Symptoms?

Fotolia_118949016_M_square.jpgSome allergens are obvious, Spring Pollen and Fall Ragweed are easy to see and are certainly responsible for the allergy symptoms of millions of people. Other allergy triggers are just as common, but far less visible. Substances like mold and dust are huge contributors to allergy symptoms that lurk in different places than their plant-based counterparts. Mold, especially, is tricky to spot and just as likely to cause your symptoms - especially in the Fall and Winter months. You just have to know where to look.

Where is Mold Found?

The bad news is that mold grows easily in both indoor and outdoor environments. If you are outside, be leery of building walls that receive lots of shade, areas beneath porches, outdoor cushions, piles of wood and building materials, as well as piles leaves and compost. Indoors, mold is commonly found on clothes, pets, and shoes that have been outside, vents and HVAC systems, windows and doorways that are improperly sealed, in cabinets under sinks, in old cardboard boxes and other paper products (like wrapping paper), damp bathrooms, basements, and cellars, and on wooden furniture in humid areas. In short, it's pretty hard to avoid mold in some form.

The Relationship Between Mold and Allergy Symptoms

What is it about mold that causes allergy symptoms? The common answer has been mold spores, but there's a little more to it than that. It's not so much the spores themselves, but chemicals called mycotoxins that mold spores release. If you are allergic to molds associated with allergies, these mycotoxins cause your immune system to respond in a way that leads to sore throat and inflamed sinuses. Additional symptoms can include shortness of breath, fever, itchiness of the nose and throat, skin irritation, and more. If you think are suffering from mold allergies, see your doctor. 

How to Avoid Mold

There are a few things you can do on your own to minimize your exposure to mold and improve your symptoms, like using a dehumidifier, cleaning visible mold with equal parts water and bleach, avoiding the outdoors after rain or fog, wearing a mask while doing yard work or dusting indoors, closing the windows while you sleep, checking the mold count in your area, and more. If your symptoms don't improve or worsen, see your doctor. If you are in the Athens/North GA area, Ashford Clinic offers effective Allergy Drops for many allergens.