A mold allergy is an allergic reaction to mold spores. These molds usually appear in damp apartments or houses, but they can also be present in old food or textiles (eg curtains). Successful treatment against this form of allergy is only possible if the living space is completely renovated and mold is removed.
What is mold allergy?
The mold allergy belongs to the sphere of influence of the house dust allergy and can be one of its triggers. Humans have an allergic reaction to mold spores, which are found in small quantities in almost every household. See bittranslators for About Hypogonadism.
However, the mold allergy only occurs when there is enough mold in the home and the human immune system is sensitized to it.
A mold allergy requires that the patient is exposed to mold for a long period of time. The most common species are Aspergillus, Alternaria and Cladosporium. Damp homes with poor insulation or long-term mold problems are particularly dangerous. If the patient is exposed to the mold spores for a longer period of time, the immune system can become sensitized to the spores and typical allergy symptoms appear.
Runny noses and frequent sneezing as well as reddened mucous membranes are among the most common symptoms. In particularly severe cases, asthmatic attacks can even occur, leading to hospital admission. However, mold allergy can also be present from birth and show up as soon as serious mold problems develop in a building.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Many people suffer from the symptoms of a mold allergy due to undetected mold exposure. Since these are relatively common and unspecific symptoms such as watery, burning or itchy or burning eyes, frequent sneezing, a stuffy nose, chronic runny nose and coughing, these symptoms are often not correctly interpreted. In the long run, this can lead to other symptoms such as asthma-like whistling when coughing or blocked sinuses.
The onset of symptoms depends on the type of mold to which those affected are reacting. Once sources of mold are found in the living space, it is difficult to remove them completely. In the case of allergic reactions to the mold spores, those affected usually have seasonal or year-round symptoms – especially in the cold season, when the mold spreads unnoticed. The allergic reaction is caused by airborne mold spores.
In addition to symptoms in the respiratory tract and on the face, mold allergies can also cause symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract. These are triggered by food contaminated with mold or fermented. People who are allergic to mold must avoid foods that have been produced with starter cultures and enhancers or that have been produced with the help of mold metabolites.
Severe cases of mold allergy can lead to nettle fever, allergic asthma, migraine attacks or, in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock.
Course of the disease
In the case of a mold allergy, the first symptoms appear shortly after contact with mold spores, which remain the same and can only get worse if the patient comes into contact with other spores. Symptoms of the disease appear within the first few seconds or minutes after contact where it occurred. Since the fungal spores are usually carried through the air, the mold allergy is immediately noticeable in the form of a runny nose, sneezing, shortness of breath or asthmatic attacks.
The sequence of these symptoms can increase: at first only the slightest signs appear, but the longer the contact lasts, the more severe they become. The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of spores to which the patient is exposed on the one hand, and on the other hand the length of time over which the contamination of the living space with dangerous molds has already extended.
Some patients also experience reddening of the skin that may itch or hurt if the skin comes in contact with the mold spores. Mold allergy is not the only condition that can result from mold – over time, symptoms can develop into chronic conditions.
Mold allergy carries a significant risk of various complications. This is especially true if the allergen exposure is permanent and no early therapy is given. So it is possible that there is a so-called change of floor and the symptoms shift from the upper to the lower airways. The result is allergic asthma.
Above all, the respiratory system of the affected persons often suffers from a mold allergy. The disease threatens sequelae such as allergic cold (allergic rhinitis), bronchial asthma (type I allergy), chronic inflammation of the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis) and simultaneous inflammation of the nasal mucosa and paranasal sinus mucosa, which doctors call rhinosinusitis.
Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is also possible, which is caused by molds originating from the Aspergillus genus. Furthermore, the airways can be affected by allergic tracheitis. This is an inflammation of the trachea, which causes severe coughing fits.
Complications from a mold allergy are also possible on the skin and subcutaneous tissue. These include nettle fever (urticaria), which is associated with edematous efflorescences, and allergic eczema, in which the skin becomes inflamed.
Other conceivable complications of a mold allergy are allergic gastroenteritis, which manifests itself in bloating (meteorism) and diarrhea, and an anaphylactic reaction. People who suffer from an immune deficiency such as AIDS or who take immunosuppressants are particularly at risk for mold-related diseases.
When should you go to the doctor?
People whose home or work is affected by mold should have their health checked by a doctor. In the case of severe mold growth, a health check is always advisable so that no long-term consequences or impairments develop. If you sneeze, have a blocked nose or have irregular breathing, you need to investigate the causes of the symptoms. If the symptoms increase or persist unabated for several weeks, there is a need for action.
Noises during breathing, headaches or migraines are further signs of a health impairment. A doctor’s visit is advisable so that a diagnosis can be made. Redness of the eyes, itching or a general feeling of illness should be examined and treated. In particularly serious cases, an ambulance is required.
If an anaphylactic shock occurs, an emergency doctor must be alerted and first aid measures applied. Some patients may experience a sharp increase in symptoms within a short period of time. This is to be understood as a warning signal from the organism and requires immediate action. Severe swelling, shortness of breath or disturbances of consciousness must be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.
Those affected who suffer from a gradual increase in symptoms should consult a doctor as soon as they experience a decrease in their performance. Sleep disturbances or a general feeling of being unwell should also be presented to a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
The only correct and sensible treatment for mold allergies is to keep the patient’s living space mold-free. Before that, however, it must still be diagnosed whether it is actually a mold allergy – this is done by means of an allergy test, which can be carried out by the family doctor. The source of mold must then be localized and removed in the living room.
Occasionally it is damp walls or window joints, sometimes the allergy is also related to the patient’s lifestyle. For example, indoor plants are not conducive to a mold allergy, as the soil can occasionally become moldy. Kitchen waste should never be left lying around by patients with mold allergies, as this also promotes the occurrence of allergy symptoms.
In order to keep the allergy from recurring in the future, treatment and prevention must consist above all in properly cleaning the refrigerator and all other parts of the facility where mold can develop.
Mold allergy is a disease in which aftercare and prevention go hand in hand. Follow-up care can be arranged with the allergist, but also with the general practitioner. It is important to consciously avoid confrontation with the allergen. There are different measures for this.
Mold formation in the home can often be prevented by consistent ventilation. This is particularly important for damp rooms such as the bathroom, but also for the bedroom with regard to a relaxed and healthy sleep.
However, allergy sufferers should also avoid foods with mold. It should be noted here that fruit with a high moisture content (e.g. grapes) is particularly prone to mold growth and this is not always immediately obvious. Food should therefore be stored in a dry place and washed carefully before consumption.
Mold allergy sufferers need fresh air so that the stressed lungs and bronchi can regenerate sustainably. Walks are particularly helpful here. Staying in the high mountains or by the sea on vacation can particularly support regeneration in this context.
A spa stay specifically for the needs of allergy sufferers can also be included in the aftercare. Breathing exercises can supplement follow-up care. These are learned in physiotherapy and practiced at home in everyday life. Pranayama, the breathing exercises from yoga, are also used for relaxation.
You can do that yourself
The mold allergy offers two starting points with regard to self-help in everyday life: on the one hand in the area of targeted prevention, on the other hand in the area of acute symptoms. Both are addressed below.
Prevention consists of giving the mold as little opportunity to spread as possible. This includes airing the apartment, which should be done regularly. This is particularly important in very damp rooms. In addition, standing water, for example on tiles in the bathroom or on window sills, should be avoided. Suspected mold in the apartment is to be recognized or ruled out as early as possible by the expert.
In an acute attack, the situation is the same as with many other allergies. Itchy eyes can be cooled with damp cloths. Going out into the fresh air and avoiding the allergens is often helpful for the runny nose that often sets in. This also applies to asthmatic coughs, which can arise as a result of an allergy to mold. In consultation with the doctor treating you, homeopathic medicines can also be used. Globules or Schuessler salts are ideal here. Sufficient drinking is also important so that the secretion that the body produces against the allergy can drain off quickly. Textiles contaminated with mold should be washed at high temperatures.