Seasonal Allergies or Mold Problem?
You may blame pollen, ragweed, and seasonal allergies for your sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, and tickle in your throat. For many allergy sufferers, mold may be playing a bigger role than you realize – especially if you had a water leak from an ice dam this winter. Now that temperatures have warmed up, people are finding that mold is growing inside their walls and ceilings where the leak was. However, in addition to roof leaks, there are a number of sources of household mold and mildew that may be causing allergies.
How can you tell the difference between seasonal allergies and a mold allergy?
It can be difficult, as many of the symptoms are the same. However, if you are indoors with the windows closed and you are still suffering, or if you only experience these symptoms in a certain location, like your office or home, mold may be the culprit.
Signs of a mold allergy and symptoms of mold exposure include:
– Runny or stuffy nose
– Watery eyes
– Wheezing or difficulty breathing
– Itchy eyes, nose and throat
– Cough and postnasal drip
– Dry, scaly skin
There is a direct connection between mold and asthma!
If you have asthma and are allergic to mold, your asthma symptoms can be triggered by exposure to mold spores, and can sometimes be severe. In addition to the usual symptoms, you may experience acute coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency, among others, indicate that indoor air pollution is at least twice as high as outdoor air pollution. As indoor ventilation tends to be limited, allergens like mold can wreak havoc. If you are taking allergy medication and keeping your windows closed, yet are still suffering from symptoms generally caused by allergens, have your home or office tested for mold and indoor air quality.
Sources of Household Mold and Mildew & How To Prevent It
There are certain things you can do to help reduce household mold in your home, and therefore mold allergies.
- Clean bathrooms, and especially bathtub and shower areas, windowsills and shower curtains with a bleach or disinfectant mixture at least once a month to prevent mold growth.
- Remove organic debris from your gutters and yard. Dead branches and leaves are prime growth spots for mold.
- Use an exhaust fan in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms to vent excess moisture. Be sure they vent to the outside of the home. Clean fans every 3 months.
- Regularly check under sinks for leaks. Mold can grow quickly where there’s moisture.
- Use a dehumidifier – especially in damp areas of your home. Keep the dehumidifier set at 50% humidity. Any more than that will encourage mold growth.
- Keep your basement carpet-free to avoid moisture build up and mold growth.
Mold allergies share many of the same symptoms of other allergies, so it can often be difficult to diagnose. If you suspect your allergies may be more significant than seasonal allergies and medication is not helping, have your home, office or school tested for mold by an independent professional. Obviously you cannot avoid mold altogether, but removing it from your home or work environment is a huge leap in the right direction!