What is mold?
There are thousands of types of molds and yeast, the two groups of plants in the fungus family. Yeasts are single cells that divide to form clusters. Molds consist of many cells that grow as branching threads called hyphae. Although both groups can probably cause allergic reactions, only a small number of molds are widely recognized offenders.
The seeds or reproductive particles of fungi are called spores. They differ in size, shape, and color among species. Each spore that germinates can give rise to new mold growth, which in turn can produce millions of spores.
What is mold allergy?
When inhaled, microscopic fungal spores or, sometimes, fragments of fungi may cause allergic rhinitis. Because they are so small, mold spores may evade the protective mechanisms of the nose and upper respiratory tract to reach the lungs.
In a small number of people, symptoms of mold allergy may be brought on or worsened by eating certain foods, such as cheeses, processed with fungi. Occasionally, mushrooms, dried fruits, and foods containing yeast, soy sauce, or vinegar will produce allergic symptoms. There is no known relationship, however, between a respiratory allergy to the mold Penicillium and an allergy to the drug penicillin, made from the mold.
Allergies to airborne or household molds. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Mold allergies is available below.
Where do molds grow?
Molds can be found wherever there is moisture, oxygen, and a source of the few other chemicals they need. In the fall they grow on rotting logs and fallen leaves, especially in moist, shady areas. In gardens, they can be found in compost piles and on certain grasses and weeds. Some molds attach to grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and corn, making farms, grain bins, and silos likely places to find mold.
Hot spots of mold growth in the home include damp basements and closets, bathrooms (especially shower stalls), places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, air conditioners, humidifiers, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and old foam rubber pillows.
Symptoms of Mold allergies
- Runny nose
- Blocked nose
- Postnasal drip
Treatments for Mold allergies
- Treatment of mold allergy is dependant upon the type of allergic symptom, the body system affected, and the severity of the reaction. Treatments for mold allergies include:
- Allergen avoidance and minimisation of exposure - maintaining a dry environment in the house and workplace as much as possible.
- Antihistamines - Useful for allergic rhinitis and some allergy mediated skin conditions. Not helpful in asthma except for mild seasonal asthma where allergy may be a precipitant.
- Nasal sprays - including topical steroids and antiinflammatories used for allergic rhinitis
- Eyedrops - ketorolac, levocabastine, ketotifen, olapatadine, for allergic conjunctivitis
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