Symptoms of Mold Allergies
While tree, grass, and weed pollen seasons coincide with the season in which these plants are blooming, mold spores can exist all year round both outside and inside. Mold spores can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms. Those who are allergic to mold, experience typical respiratory allergy symptoms including:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Irritated eyes
- Itchy throat
Fall is a common time for mold growth outside due to the damp and cold weather. Those who are allergic to mold spores should minimize their exposure and work to control mold where they live.
How to Minimize Exposure to Mold
Mold is a fungus that can grow many places and it is almost impossible to avoid; however, there are several of protection products that can help you minimize your exposure to mold spores.
Use a N95 Mask – Using a NIOSH N95 mask will prevent you from breathing in mold spores you may be exposed to when working outside or in damp areas.
Wear Gloves – When cleaning areas where mold may have grown such as bathrooms or outside doing yard work, use gloves to prevent skin exposure to the mold spores.
Tips to Controlling Mold
Avoidance is the first step to treating allergies. When avoidance and medications do not control your allergy symptoms, then immunotherapy is typically recommended for pollen and mold allergies. Controlling mold in your environment is crucial whether you are allergic to mold or not. The key is to control moisture levels. Here are a few tips to help prevent mold growth in and around your home:
Mold typically grows in hot and humid environments. It is important to properly ventilate your kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room to control the humidity levels. Simple activities such as boiling water, washing clothes, and taking showers can add moisture to the air. If these areas are not ventilated properly to the outside, moisture can build up and encourage mold growth. Instead of opening a window, use an exhaust fan to vent the area, as open windows may let in pollen from the outside.
Using a HEPA filter in your HVAC or air cleaner can help catch mold spores and improve your indoor air quality. If the air is too humid, use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels. Dehumidifiers should be drained and cleaned regularly.
Monitor your humidity levels
Mold thrives in areas that have a high humidity level. Using a moisture meter you can track the level of moisture in your home and take steps to keep humidity levels between 30 to 60 percent as the EPA recommends. If you see condensation appear on a wall or window, dry it immediately and take steps to properly ventilate the area to prevent the condensation from building up again.
Fix leaks and Damp Areas
Be aware of the problem areas in your home, there are certain areas – under sinks, basements, garages – that tend to get wet more often. Fix leaky pipes and keep the humidity levels under control by using a dehumidifier if necessary. Mold can destroy the material it is growing on, if mold has saturated an area, you may need to contact a professional for mold remediation and clean up.
Once fall arrives many homes decorate with fall and holiday decorations. Organic fall decorations include displays of corn shock, hay bales, and an assortment of gourds and pumpkins(carved and not), these may mold within a few weeks of being left out in the weather. Discard of moldy vegetables and organic decorations promptly as you notice the mold growth. After the holidays, when putting other decorations away, ensure they are completely dry and give them a good wipe down to remove any pollen or mold spores.
Rake Leaves, Drain Water away from Home, and Clean Gutters
After tackling the inside, check around the outside of your house. Leaves can pile up in the yard; wet leaves are the perfect place for mold spores to grow. Raking and bagging the leaves can protect your family as they enjoy the cooler outside weather in the fall. Drain water away from your home and clean out your gutters regularly to prevent clogs, leaks, and mold growth. For more information on where mold can grow and why; visit the EPA’s website on mold growth.
While it might not be possible to get rid of mold completely, taking these steps can help control mold in your home and control your mold allergies. If avoidance and over the counter medications are not controlling your allergy symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, and they can help you find relief.