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Allergies, asthma, and molds

Reactive airway - mold; Bronchial asthma - mold; Triggers - mold; Allergic rhinitis - pollen

In people who have sensitive airways, allergy and asthma symptoms can be triggered by breathing in substances called allergens, or triggers. It is important to know your triggers because avoiding them is your first step toward feeling better. Mold is a common trigger.

Molds

When your asthma or allergies become worse due to mold, you are said to have a mold allergy.

There are many types of mold. They all need water or moisture to grow.

  • Molds send out tiny spores that you cannot see with the naked eye. These spores float through the air, outdoors and indoors.
  • Mold can begin growing indoors when the spores land on wet surfaces. Mold commonly grows in basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

Controlling Mold Indoors

Fabrics, carpets, stuffed animals, books, and wallpaper can contain mold spores if they are in damp places. Outdoors, mold lives in the soil, on compost, and on plants that are damp. Keeping your house and yard drier will help control mold growth.

Central heating and air-conditioning systems can help control mold.

  • Change furnace and air conditioner filters often.
  • Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to best remove mold from the air.

In the bathroom:

  • Use an exhaust fan when you shower or take baths.
  • Use a squeegee to wipe water off shower and tub walls after you bathe.
  • DO NOT leave damp clothes or towels in a basket or hamper.
  • Clean or replace shower curtains when you see mold on them.

In the basement:

  • Check your basement for moisture and mold.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep the air drier. Keeping indoor moisture levels (humidity) at less than 30% to 50% will keep mold spores down.
  • Empty dehumidifiers daily and clean them often with a vinegar solution.

In the rest of the house:

  • Fix leaky faucets and pipes.
  • Keep all sinks and tubs dry and clean.
  • Empty and wash the refrigerator tray that collects water from the freezer defroster often.
  • Frequently clean any surfaces where mold grows in your house.
  • DO NOT use vaporizers for an extended time to manage symptoms during asthma attacks.

Outdoors:

  • Get rid of water that collects around the outside of your house.
  • Stay away from barns, hay, and wood piles.
  • DO NOT rake leaves or mow grass.

References

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website. Indoor allergens. www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/indoor-allergens. Accessed June 18, 2018.

Cipriani F, Calamelli E, Ricci G. Allergen avoidance in allergic asthma. Front Pediatr. 2017;5:103. PMCID: PMC5423906 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423906.

Platts-Mills TAE. Indoor allergens. In: Adkinson NF Jr, Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al, eds. Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 28.

  • Allergy to mold - animal dander - dust

    Animation

  •  

    Allergy to mold - animal dander - dust - Animation

    Your house is where you're supposed to feel most comfortable, but for many people life at home is pretty unpleasant. When they breathe in the tiny particles of dust, mold, or pet dander that are floating around their house, they sneeze, cough, break out in a rash, and can even have trouble catching their breath. Let's talk about allergies to mold, pet dander, and dust. Although we try to keep our homes clean, all sorts of little critters can sneak in. Mold is a tiny fungus that thrives in damp places, like your bathroom shower curtain or basement ceiling. Dust is made up of particles from your skin and clothing, plus tiny insects called mites. It floats around your house, skirting your broom and collecting into bunnies. And pet dander is the little pieces of skin your dog or cat sheds. Most of us can breathe in a little bit of mold, dust, or dander without having any problems. But for some people, these substances trigger a chorus of sneezes, wheezes, and coughs, as well as watery eyes, itchy skin, and hives. If you're allergic to dust, dander, or mold, it's because your immune system is over-reacting, mistakenly targeting them as if they were bacteria or viruses. So, how do you know you have an allergy? Your doctor can find out for sure by doing allergy tests. One common way to do these tests is to put a small amount of the offending substance under your skin. If you have a reaction, you're probably allergic to it. You can also have a blood test to look for substances called antibodies, which your body produces in response to dust and other allergens. How your allergy is treated depends on your symptoms, and what's causing it. You may take allergy medicines like Zyrtec or Claritin. Or, you can have allergy shots to get your body used to whatever substance you're allergic to, so it doesn't react to it in the future. The obvious treatment is to avoid whatever is causing your allergy. Once you know what you are allergic to you may want to, Keep your house dry so mold has nowhere to grow. If your home tends to be humid, a dehumidifier can help take some of the moisture out of the air. Throw out any moldy shower curtains and clean mold from ceilings and floors. Wrap your mattresses, box springs, and pillows in dust mite-proof covers. Wash all of your bedding in hot water at least once a week. Also wash stuffed toys, which can collect dust, and vacuum carpets. Wash and groom your pet regularly to get rid of dander. And install a HEPA filter to clean the air in your home. By keeping your house clean and treating your symptoms, you should be able to live more comfortably in your home without sneezing. Allergy shots can also do the trick. If you've tried everything and your allergies are still driving you nuts, talk to your doctor about finding other ways to relieve your symptoms.

  • Allergy to mold - animal dander - dust

    Animation

  •  

    Allergy to mold - animal dander - dust - Animation

    Your house is where you're supposed to feel most comfortable, but for many people life at home is pretty unpleasant. When they breathe in the tiny particles of dust, mold, or pet dander that are floating around their house, they sneeze, cough, break out in a rash, and can even have trouble catching their breath. Let's talk about allergies to mold, pet dander, and dust. Although we try to keep our homes clean, all sorts of little critters can sneak in. Mold is a tiny fungus that thrives in damp places, like your bathroom shower curtain or basement ceiling. Dust is made up of particles from your skin and clothing, plus tiny insects called mites. It floats around your house, skirting your broom and collecting into bunnies. And pet dander is the little pieces of skin your dog or cat sheds. Most of us can breathe in a little bit of mold, dust, or dander without having any problems. But for some people, these substances trigger a chorus of sneezes, wheezes, and coughs, as well as watery eyes, itchy skin, and hives. If you're allergic to dust, dander, or mold, it's because your immune system is over-reacting, mistakenly targeting them as if they were bacteria or viruses. So, how do you know you have an allergy? Your doctor can find out for sure by doing allergy tests. One common way to do these tests is to put a small amount of the offending substance under your skin. If you have a reaction, you're probably allergic to it. You can also have a blood test to look for substances called antibodies, which your body produces in response to dust and other allergens. How your allergy is treated depends on your symptoms, and what's causing it. You may take allergy medicines like Zyrtec or Claritin. Or, you can have allergy shots to get your body used to whatever substance you're allergic to, so it doesn't react to it in the future. The obvious treatment is to avoid whatever is causing your allergy. Once you know what you are allergic to you may want to, Keep your house dry so mold has nowhere to grow. If your home tends to be humid, a dehumidifier can help take some of the moisture out of the air. Throw out any moldy shower curtains and clean mold from ceilings and floors. Wrap your mattresses, box springs, and pillows in dust mite-proof covers. Wash all of your bedding in hot water at least once a week. Also wash stuffed toys, which can collect dust, and vacuum carpets. Wash and groom your pet regularly to get rid of dander. And install a HEPA filter to clean the air in your home. By keeping your house clean and treating your symptoms, you should be able to live more comfortably in your home without sneezing. Allergy shots can also do the trick. If you've tried everything and your allergies are still driving you nuts, talk to your doctor about finding other ways to relieve your symptoms.

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    Review Date: 5/20/2018

    Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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