Sinus congestion after yard work. Wheezing after raking leaves. Headache after being in a musty environment. Molds grow under a wide variety of indoor and outdoor conditions where there is sufficient water or humidity and can cause a number of symptoms.
Between 25-50% of homes have identifiable mold growth. Although older buildings often contain mold, conditions that increase moisture and promote mold growth include poor ventilation, leaking, flooding, faulty construction and/or a lack of air conditioning. Outdoors, molds are universal in plant material and soil where fungal material becomes easily airborne.
While mold exposure is universal, symptoms depend on your sensitivity to mold, your exposure to mold, and whether you may be sensitive to other allergens. Mold allergy symptoms include:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Delayed symptoms including
- Chronic congestion
- Recurrent sinusitis
- Malaise and fatigue
The conditions that promote mold growth also increase other allergens such as dust mite.
Treatment begins with reducing mold exposure by removing mold sources, decreasing humidity and increasing ventilation. Removing mold from a surface with a detergent is a good start since molds are resistant to bleach. A sinus rinse after mold exposure may also help with symptoms.
Sublingual immunotherapy for mold allergy is used to reduce initial allergic sensitization and build increased tolerance over time to reduce or eliminate reactions.