Mold Allergies Treatment
Mold spores are present in the air we all breathe, but only an estimated 3% to 10% of people are allergic to mold. These people have allergic reactions if they are exposed to too much of this fungus because their immune system recognizes it as an allergen and overreacts. Penn Medicine Becker ENT & Allergy in New Jersey and Philadelphia are experts in diagnosing and treating mold and other allergies.
Link Between Mold Exposure and Allergy Symptoms
Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in damp environments, both outdoor and indoor, and releases spores into the air. When inhaled or come into contact with the skin, these spores can trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, and even asthma attacks. Mold allergy diagnosis typically involves a physical examination and allergy tests to determine the specific mold allergens causing the symptoms.
Avoiding Mold Outdoors
One of the best ways to manage mold allergies is to avoid exposure to triggers. To minimize mold exposure outdoors, keep the home’s foundation dry and clear of dead leaves, grass clippings, or other organic material that can be a breeding ground for mold. Additionally, avoid areas with high mold concentrations, such as compost piles, wooded areas, and damp locations.
Short-Term Treatment of Mold Allergies
The treatment for mold allergies is determined by the severity of the individual’s reaction. At Penn Medicine Becker ENT & Allergy, we provide comprehensive care for allergy management.
Over-the-Counter Medications for Relief
Some allergy treatments are available over the counter, while others require a prescription. Sometimes the medicine is the same, but when you get it from a doctor, it is prescription strength.
For individuals suffering from mold allergies, over-the-counter medicines can provide convenient and immediate relief. These medications come in a variety of forms, including pills, nasal sprays, and eye drops, and are generally safe when used as directed.
Nasal Sprays to Reduce Inflammation
Nasal corticosteroids are a specific type of nasal spray that can help reduce inflammation and alleviate allergy symptoms caused by mold exposure. These medications, which include ciclesonide, fluticasone, mometasone, triamcinolone, and budesonide, work by decreasing the production of inflammatory substances in the nasal passages. Nasal corticosteroids can provide relief from symptoms like congestion, sneezing, and itching, common mold allergy symptoms.
Nasal corticosteroids are generally considered safe and effective for short-term use, but they should be used as directed by a healthcare professional to ensure optimal results and minimize potential side effects.
Antihistamines for Allergy Symptoms
Antihistamines, such as loratadine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine, work by blocking the action of histamine, a substance released by the immune system during an allergic reaction, which can cause sneezing, itching, and a runny nose. Antihistamines can provide relief from these common allergy symptoms.
Antihistamine nasal sprays are also available for individuals suffering from mold allergies. These nasal sprays, which include azelastine and olopatadine, work similarly to oral antihistamines, by inhibiting histamine in the nasal passages.
Using a combination of over-the-counter medications, nasal corticosteroids, and antihistamine nasal sprays can help individuals with mold allergies effectively manage their symptoms in the short term. However, for long-term relief and prevention, the physicians at Penn Medicine Becker ENT & Allergy will develop an appropriate mold allergy treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs and circumstances. Their comprehensive care may include allergy testing, immunotherapy, or environmental modifications to reduce mold exposure.
Corticosteroid Inhalers for Severe Symptoms
For individuals experiencing severe mold allergy symptoms, particularly those who also have asthma, corticosteroid inhalers may be prescribed by a healthcare professional. Corticosteroid inhalers contain medications that help reduce inflammation in the airways, making it easier for the affected person to breathe. By delivering the medication directly to the lungs, corticosteroid inhalers can provide targeted relief for those suffering from severe respiratory symptoms related to mold allergies and asthma.
Corticosteroid inhalers should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional, who can provide appropriate dosing instructions and monitor the patient’s progress.
Immunotherapy for Longer-Term Treatment
Immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy shots, is a longer-term treatment option for individuals with mold allergies. This treatment aims to desensitize the immune system to mold allergens over time, reducing the severity of allergic reactions and potentially providing lasting relief from mold allergy symptoms.
Immunotherapy involves receiving gradually increasing doses of the mold allergens that cause allergic reactions in the patient. These doses are typically administered via injections, usually over the course of several months or years. As the body becomes exposed to increasing amounts of the allergen, it gradually builds up a tolerance, which can lead to reduced allergic reactions and improved symptom control.
Immunotherapy can be an effective longer-term treatment option for mold allergies, as long as it is appropriate for the individual’s specific circumstances. The severity of symptoms, the individual’s overall health, and the presence of additional allergies or medical conditions may influence the decision to pursue immunotherapy as a treatment option.
Long-Term Treatment of Mold Allergies
Avoidance of Moldy Areas or Objects
One of the most effective long-term strategies for managing mold allergies is to avoid exposure to moldy areas or objects. Stay away from areas in your home that are prone to moisture, such as basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Carpeting, upholstery, and other fabrics are also susceptible to mold and should be removed as soon as possible if mold is suspected.
HEPA Air Purifiers to Reduce Mold Spores in the Air
Using HEPA air purifiers can help reduce the number of mold spores in the air, minimizing the risk of allergic reactions. These devices work by trapping airborne particles, including mold spores, and preventing them from circulating in the home.
Use of Dehumidifiers to Reduce Humidity Levels
Controlling humidity levels in the home is essential for preventing mold growth. Aim to maintain humidity levels below 50%, ideally between 35-50%. Most dehumidifiers remove between 30 and 70 pints of water per day and can be adjusted to achieve the desired humidity level.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance of Home
Regular cleaning and maintenance can help keep mold at bay. Clean moldy surfaces with undiluted vinegar, a bleach solution, or commercial products designed for mold removal. Additionally, store items in air-tight, waterproof containers to prevent mold growth.
Use of Allergy-Proof Covers for Bedding and Pillows
Using allergy-proof covers for bedding and pillows can help reduce exposure to mold spores while sleeping. These covers are made from materials that prevent allergens from passing through, providing a barrier between the sleeper and the allergens.
Allergic Rhinitis Vaccine (ARV) Treatment
Allergic Rhinitis Vaccine (ARV) is a newer treatment option for mold allergies. This treatment involves administering a vaccine that targets specific allergens, helping to reduce the immune system’s response to these substances. ARV treatment can lead to long-term relief from mold allergy symptoms and may be an option for those who do not respond well to other treatments.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) for Long-Term Treatment
Another long-term treatment option for mold allergies is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). In SLIT, a small tablet containing allergens is placed under the tongue, allowing the body to gradually build up a tolerance to the allergens. This treatment can help mold allergy patients reduce the severity of their allergic reactions and improve their overall quality of life.
Seeing a Specialist When Over-the-Counter Remedies Don’t Work
For many people, over-the-counter treatments may not be sufficient to manage symptoms and can pose risks if used improperly. Allergists and immunologists can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend personalized treatment plans to help manage mold allergies effectively.
Tips on Home Treatment for Mold Allergies
Mold can grow in many places in your home, such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and other damp areas. Here are some tips for home treatment:
- Regularly clean and vacuum using a HEPA filter to remove mold spores and allergens
- Clean a moldy surface using undiluted vinegar, a bleach solution, or other products designed for mold removal
- Properly ventilate bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other damp areas
- Fix any leaks or water damage promptly; use mold-resistant paint and drywall in your home to prevent mold growth.
- Avoid carpeting areas that are prone to moisture, as it can trap mold spores
By following these tips, individuals with mold allergies can help create a healthier home environment and reduce their exposure to mold allergens.
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