Are Household Molds Causing Allergies?

May 14, 2014

Many people suffer with allergies each year and the numbers of those suffering from year-round symptoms is on the rise.  While most people are aware of seasonal allergy causes, many people are still uninformed that household molds may be the culprit.

What is Mold?

Molds are fungi that can grow anywhere indoors or outdoors, especially in warm, wet areas with an appropriate food source for the molds.  Molds especially like to grow on cellulose-based materials like wood, drywall, insulation, cardboard, paper, carpet, etc.  Molds can affect people in several ways, the most common is through the spores that molds release into the air.  These spores are usually the cause of allergy and asthma symptoms.  Molds also produce chemicals called mycotoxins that can produce severe symptoms and are the reason for the name ‘toxic mold’ applied to certain mold species.  As molds grow they also produce certain chemicals as part of their digestive process call mold volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), which can also be irritants.

Symptoms of allergies caused by household molds:

Mold spores are everywhere so everyone breathes in these spores, but only some people have a reaction(s) to them.  Since these symptoms can be caused by other conditions it is important to speak with an allergist or immunologist to confirm you have a mold allergy.

Symptoms of mold allergies include:

• Itchy nose, mouth and lips

• Sneezing

• Itchy, watery eyes

• Runny nose

• Nasal congestion

Mold can also trigger asthma symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath or chest tightness.

Prevention of mold allergies:

The best way to prevent symptoms from mold allergies is to eliminate the mold.  Since mold requires moisture to grow, eliminating any plumbing leaks, condensation, or other water intrusion will stop the mold.  There may be dormant or dead mold remaining on surfaces that should be removed to prevent future mold growth.  You can remove some molds but others should be removed by a professional remediator.  Keep the humidity level below 50% to reduce the opportunities for mold growth and remove any standing water immediately.  If you can’t see mold but you think there may be a mold problem, there are tests that you can do in your home to determine mold growth.

If you are concerned that your home may have mold allergens affecting you or a family member, please click here to speak with an expert.