Focus on Mold Allergy


Maria Patricia S. Abes, MD; Maria Remedios D. Ignacio, MD; Nanneth T. Tiu, MD – a group of expert Filipino ALLERGISTS bond together as the H & L Allergy Team, whose aim is to give advice, to help readers understand and find relief in dealing with common allergic disorders.

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Humans are exposed to a lot of environmental allergens that are responsible for many allergic reactions. It is not only house dust mites, pollens, animals, drugs and foods that can cause allergic reactions but molds can also be the culprit.

Molds are tiny fungi related to mushrooms but they don’t have stems, roots and leaves. They can be found almost anywhere especially in damp areas including soil, plants and rotten wood. Exposure may be indoors (home, school or workplace), outdoors or both. It can be unicellular or multicellular. Most of the clinically important allergen-producing species are multicellular and produce spores that are often found in large amount in the air. Important fungal species includes Alternaria alternate, Cladosporium herbarium, Aspergillus fumigatus, Penicillium species and Candida albicans have been characterized because of their association with allergic disease.

Mold allergy symptoms

Mold allergy symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. It may be year-round or it may flare up only during certain times of the year when the weather is damp or when the concentrations of mold is high.

Many people allergic to mold develop symptoms like any other allergy.

• Itchy nose, mouth and lips
• Sneezing
• Itchy, watery eyes
• Runny nose
• Nasal congestion
• Wheezing, shortness of breath or chest tightness.
• Dry, scaly skin

Mold allergy diagnosis

An Allergist can diagnose whether mold is responsible for your symptoms. History and physical examination is the key to the diagnosis.

Tests to determine the culprit include:

Skin prick test – diluted amounts of suspected molds are applied to the skin in the arm or back with tiny punctures. A raised bump (hive) at the test location will develop after 15-20 minutes if the reaction is positive.

Blood test (serum-specific IgE tests) – look for the presence of specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that trigger the release of the mediators causing the allergic symptoms.

Mold allergy treatment & management

1. Avoidance – The best way to control the symptoms is to avoid exposure to molds. The tips include:

• Staying indoors on days when mold counts are high.
• Keeping away from uncut fields and avoid raking leaves.
• Taking shower after coming indoors to wash out mold spores in your hair and body.
• Fixing leaking faucets and pipes to eliminate mold from your home
• Reducing the humidity in your home below 60 percent.
• Replacing basement carpet with linoleum or concrete flooring that will not retain moisture.
• Cleaning mold off walls using a vinegar solution.

2. Medications – Antihistamines, nasal sprays and other medicines depending on the symptoms.

3. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) – contains small doses of allergen, allowing the body to build a natural immunity to the trigger that provides long-term relief of symptoms.

• Allergy (4th edition)

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