Household molds trigger allergic rhinitis

April showers can increase the amount of mold found inside and outside the home. Along with pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds, molds are an important trigger of allergic rhinitis, affecting nearly 40 million Americans, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

"Mold spores contain allergens, substances that some immune systems recognize as dangerous," said Robert K. Bush, MD, Fellow of the AAAAI and member of the AAAAI's Indoor Allergen Committee. "Exposure to mold can trigger an allergic reaction such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, coughing and hay fever-like symptoms."

Molds are microscopic organisms that are pervasive in any outdoor environment. However, they may be brought inside via clothing, shoes and soils. Mold needs only a food source, warm environment and moisture to grow. Mold may be invisible to the eye or may look like furry growth, black stains or specks of black, white, orange, green and brown on surfaces. Large infestations of mold can usually be seen or smelled.

Where can mold be found?
Inside

  • Basements or crawl spaces
  • Near windows
  • Under sinks
  • Near leaky pipes

Outside

  • Near heavy vegetation
  • Near hay or straw
  • In piles of leaves
  • In grass

What can be done?
The AAAAI recommends that you take the following steps to rid your home of mold:

  • Repair leaking roof and pipes
  • Maintain a low level of humidity in your home (between 35-40 percent); if necessary, use a de-humidifier to remove moisture
  • Use a solution of warm water, liquid detergent and 5% bleach to clean the mold on washable surfaces
  • Use exhaust fans in the bathroom and wipe down the shower after use
  • If mold is visible on soft spaces, such as carpeting or wallpaper, these things should be removed

The role of the allergist/immunologist
An allergist/immunologist can evaluate your symptoms and help you determine which are caused by mold. Once your allergic triggers are determined, your allergist/immunologist will work with you to develop a plan to avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms. To find an allergist/immunologist in your area or to learn more about allergies and asthma, call the AAAAI Physician Referral and Information Line at 1-800-822-2762 or visit the AAAAI Web site at www.aaaai.org.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States, representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals, and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.

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