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What is a Mold Allergy?

A mold allergy is an allergic reaction caused by exposure to mold spores in indoor or outdoor areas. Mold allergies may trigger reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion, coughing, and watery eyes.

Symptoms may be temporary when the climate or conditions are more damp, or may exist year round. If you have asthma, a mold allergy may worsen your condition and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Symptoms

You may be suffering from a mold allergy if you have symptoms such as:

  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Congested sinuses
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Wheezing and pain or tightness through the chest, especially if you have asthma

When to See a Doctor

Consult your primary care provider if your symptoms don’t go away after several days, or worsen to the point where you find it difficult to sleep or breath.

Causes

An allergic reaction to certain types of mold is caused by your immune system reacting to an unknown irritant. Your body tries to defend itself, causing inflammation in your nasal passages and other symptoms.

You may be more likely to develop a mold allergy if your home or workplace is high in humidity or moisture, or has poor ventilation.

Diagnosis and Tests

In addition to asking you questions about your symptoms and lifestyle, your provider may use a variety of tools to diagnose and confirm if you have an allergy to mold spores:

  • Skin allergy test – Possible allergen samples are applied to skin and then observed for reaction
  • Blood test

Treatments

The best treatment for a mold allergy is to avoid moist areas that may be inducing a reaction. However, since it may be difficult to avoid all exposure, your provider may also recommend this treatment to manage your symptoms:

  • Allergy immunotherapy, also known as an allergy shot, is a long-term treatment that reduces your sensitivity to substances that cause allergies. Many people find that their allergies improve so much that they can stop taking their regular allergy medications.

    Immunotherapy is less effective in some patients who have asthma because their asthma is not the result of allergies. Even so, about half of patients with asthma have an improvement in their asthma symptoms because of immunotherapy. Although immunotherapy generally is considered safe and effective, you should know that no treatment outcome is guaranteed.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications may also be recommended, including:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Montelukast
  • Nasal rinse

Prevention

The best way to prevent a mold allergy and an allergic reaction from occurring is to avoid areas that may contain irritating mold spores, which are more common in damp and humid places.