What is Mold Allergy?
Allergies are a condition in which the immune system overreacts when it is exposed to specific allergy triggers. In the case of mold allergies, the allergic triggers are mold spores.
When small, airborne mold spores are inhaled by mold-allergic individuals, the body identifies the spores as harmful foreign bodies. In response, an allergic reaction starts and the body releases histamine, the chemical that is responsible for the unpleasant symptoms you begin to experience.
After the first exposure, antibodies continue to recognize mold as a trespasser, so that any further contact with the mold will cause the immune system to respond with further allergic reactions.
Molds are found both indoors and outdoors. There are many types of molds, but only certain kinds cause allergies – the most common of these are alternaria, cladosporium, aspergillus, and penicillium.
Possible Symptoms of Mold Allergy
Symptoms of a mold allergic reaction are the same as in other types of upper respiratory allergic reactions and can consist of: sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, allergy cough, post-nasal drip, watery eyes, and itchy eyes, nose, or throat.
Mold allergy symptoms differ from one person to the next, and can be mild or severe. They can be year-round or erupt only at particular times of the year. Symptoms may be worse with damp weather, or in places that have high levels of mold spores.
Risk Factors for Mold Allergies
Several risk factors can lead to the development of a mold allergy, or aggravate symptoms you are currently experiencing:
- Family history of allergies and/or asthma
- Being exposed to mold while you are at work (working outdoors in moist environments, working with plants, or even baking and furniture repair)
- Living or working in a building where mold can thrive
- Humidity of 60% or more
- Leaky pipes or water damage
- Poor ventilation in damp areas, like basements and bathrooms
Some allergic conditions caused by mold:
- Asthma – shortness of breath, chest tightness, and cough
- Allergic fungal sinusitis – when fungus begins to grow in the sinuses
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis – a fungal infection in the lungs that may occur in people who also suffer from asthma
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis – a rare inflammation of the lungs caused by exposure to airborne mold spores or dust.
Diagnosis of Mold Allergy
To properly diagnose an allergy to mold, a physical examination will be performed and a full medical history will be taken by one of our allergy and asthma associates. It is also likely that you will need allergy skin prick testing. This test uses diluted amounts of allergens that are applied to the skin with tiny punctures. If you are allergic, you will have a localized allergic reaction and a raised bump (hive) will develop on your skin.
Treatment for Mold Allergy
If you have mold allergies, your first step should be to decrease or eliminate your exposure to mold. This will decrease your allergic reactions. It’s not always feasible to keep away from mold allergy triggers, so allergy medications may be recommended by your NYC allergy doctor to help reduce or eliminate your symptoms.
If you need help with your mold allergies, the new york allergists and specialists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers would like to help. We have the latest treatment & testing, and we have convenient asthma & allergy clinics throughout NYC: Murray Hill, Midtown, Upper West Side, Chelsea, and Queens. Our allergists can help you find relief for your nasal and sinus problems, asthma, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) symptoms, skin conditions, and respiratory allergies. Please call NY Allergy and Sinus Centers at 212-686-6321. We see pediatric and adult patients from all around the NYC metropolitan area: Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.