Mold Allergies: Causes and Treatments


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The effects that mold can have on a person's home are well known. Mold can cause serious cosmetic and structural damage to a home and make it inhospitable to humans. However, mold can be just as devastating to a person's health. Prolonged mold exposure can lead to the devlopement of mold allergies and allergy-like symptoms. It's so bad that mold has been used as a bio-weapon.

If you have been having respiratory, allergy-like symptoms lately but are not sure what could be causing them, there is a chance you are dealing with an undiagnosed, recently triggered mold allergy. Here's a list of  mold allergy causes and treatments you need to know about.

What types of mold cause allergies?


Alternaria is a mold that is typically found outdoors, but can be brought inside on clothing, shoes, or other items that have been outside. Once it's indoors, it commonly grows on drywall, plywood, paint, etc. The health effects of alternaria are generally mild, except in people who have compromised immune systems.


Aspergillus is an extremely common type of mold and is generally unavoidable. It thrives in decaying leaves and on most plant life. Most people won't experience negative health effects from aspergillus mold unless they're either immunocompromised or there is a heavy concentration of mold indoors where they spent much of their time.

It can cause allergic reactions, aspergillomas in people who have pre-existing conditions such as emphysema, or invasive aspergillosis, which is the most severe form of aspergillus infection. It can be fatal, as it can spread quickly from the lungs to everywhere else in the body.


One of the most common indoor and outdoor fungi that contribute to the appearance of black and green mold. It generally only produces mild allergy symptoms, but can cause infections in immunocompromised people.


This is a common cause of food spoilage and valuable for food and drug production. It was discovered in 1809 by Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link and is used in food production to create certain types of cheese and is responsible for the existence of the antibiotic penicillin. Indoors, you can find it growing on ceiling tiles and wood surfaces in the form of green or blue fuzzy mold growth.

Like the other molds we've mentioned, it can cause allergic reactions or infections in immunocompromised individuals. Some species of penicillum mold can cause serious damage if eaten or inhaled, however, so any mold growth you find in your home should be dealt with immediately.



What triggers mold allergies?

Mold allergies are typically triggered when a person has been exposed to a high amount of mold in their environment. This can especially happen in environments in which there is a lot of moisture in the air. Moisture creates an environment in which mold has the potential to thrive.

When a person is exposed to mold there is always a high possibility that they can inhale the spores that mold spreads into the air. These spores will trigger respiratory sicknesses that have allergy-like symptoms.

What living conditions can cause mold allergies?

Mold is caused by a combination of three factors: heat, moisture, and darkness. Suppose you are living in a dank house or apartment with frequently high humidity and not a lot of direct sunlight.

In that case, you could be setting yourself up for a future mold problem, which is typically followed by mold allergy symptoms.

If you are not getting a lot of fresh air in your home, that can be a major factor. Stagnant air can contribute to a mold's furthered growth.

If you do not keep a particularly clean environment in your home, then you are practically inviting mold into your home.

Can mold affect my asthma?

Yes, if you have asthma then you best believe that the addition of mold spores into the air of your home will affect it. Mold exposure can exacerbate asthma symptoms and trigger harsh asthma attacks. You can experience the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in chest

If you find that you are having such attacks or symptoms more frequently then you need to speak with your doctor immediately, as such attacks can be life-threatening due to the exacerbation caused by mold exposure.

Do antibiotics kill mold?

No, antibiotics do not kill mold. You may make the mistake of asking your doctor for antibiotics to take care of your symptoms. Your doctor will then inform you that antibiotics are useless against mold-induced allergy symptoms.

This is because mold is not a form of bacteria. It is a fungus. This means you will likely be prescribed antifungal medications such as, but not limited to the following:

  • Voriconazole
  • Fluconazole
  • Nystatin
  • Itraconazole
  • Amphotericin

How are mold allergies diagnosed?

Mold allergies are diagnosed by an immunologist or an allergist. If you suspect that you have developed a mold allergy then you need to make an appointment with an immunologist. An immunologist can administer tests that are designed to determine what allergies you may have.

They will either administer a skin test (commonly referred to as a scratch test) or they will run a blood test. Either way, you will have results that are accurate and can answer whether or not you have a mold problem.

Skin test

A skin prick test will use tiny amounts of allergens that the doctor suspects may be causing a problem. These will be applied to your skin, typically your back or your arm, along with a tiny prick.

If you're allergic to a particular substance, you'll have a raised area of skin at that particular test location.

Blood test

Blood tests measure the number of antibodies that exist in your blood called immunoglobulin E (IgE). When a blood test is performed, a sample of your blood will be sent to a laboratory.

Once there, it will be tested to see how sensitive it is to particular types of mold.

How do you treat mold allergies?

You can treat mold allergies in a variety of ways, including medications, controlling your environment, and more. Beyond simply taking any medicine that your doctor prescribed for you, below are some ways that you can handle your mold allergy at home.


If you have outdoor mold-related allergies then you can study weather reports before leaving the house. You can often find information regarding mold counts which can help you prepare for dealing with the outside world. Using a mask in public will help you to keep from inhaling any outside spores.


Indoors is where you will have the most capability to control your environment. Your indoor environment is where you can prevent mold in the first place. When you are in your home you can adjust your environment to prevent further mold growth and keep the air as you need it to feel comfortable.

Other treatment options include the following:

OTC Antihistamines

There are various antihistamines that can be purchased over the counter that you can use to treat allergic symptoms. The most common brand name is Benadryl (diphenhydramine), but it may not work for all allergy sufferers. Other options include: loratadine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine.

Nasal corticosteroids

You can obtain nasal corticosteroids in the form of ciclesonide, fluticasone, mometasone, and triamcinolone and budesonide.

Brand names include: Omnaris, Zetonna, Flonase, Nasonex, and Rhinocort.

Nasal spray decongestants

Name brands such as Afrin (oxymetazoline) can reduce allergy symptoms temporarily but are not effective for more than 3 or 4 days at a time and can cause side effects such as headaches, nervousness, and insomnia when used too often. Use these sparingly.

Oral decongestants

The best OTC decongestant has often been considered pseudoephedrine. Still, its over-the-counter availability has been limited in many states due to its status as an ingredient in illegal methamphetamine. You can usually acquire it from your local pharmacy without a prescription by providing your driver's license. The most common name brand is Sudafed.


This is a drug that goes by the name brand of Singulair. It works by blocking the action of leukotrienes. These are chemicals that your body releases when you come into contact with a substance you're allergic to, whether it's airborne, something you've eaten, etc.



Mold allergy prevention options

Your best line of defense against the mold that can cause allergies is to prevent it in the first place. Here are some of the things you can do to prevent mold-based allergies, and how you can keep mold from developing in your home:

  • Change your air filter and furnace filters regularly – This will lower the number of potential mold-feeding contaminants in your home.
  • Use a dehumidifier – The EPA recommends your home have humidity levels at or below 50%. A dehumidifier is your best bet to make that happen.
  • Cut off any sources of dampness – This will cut the mold off from a moisture source
  • Remove carpet from bathrooms and basements – Carpet in a bathroom is a bad move from a stylistic standpoint, but it is also a potential mold breeding ground if there is a leak. Getting rid of it will drastically reduce your odds of dealing with mold growth.

How long do mold allergy symptoms last?

Mold allergy symptoms will begin to appear anywhere from 2 to 12 hours after you've been exposed to it and can last for several days after you've removed yourself from the environment where the mold existed.

Note that your allergy symptoms will not resolve completely as long as you remain in the environment the mold is in or if you do nothing to eliminate the mold in that environment.

Once you have managed to get rid of the mold, provided you have finished any antifungal medications you have been prescribed, you should see a drastic reduction in allergy-like symptoms.

Mold sickness vs. allergies

Serious mold-related illnesses almost always start with allergy-like symptoms, but these symptoms can get worse rapidly. Allergies will come and go depending on whether or not you are near the mold, while mold sickness will persist even when you have left the environment.

This can be seen when someone has lived in a mold-infested home for a long time, but their symptoms don't resolve even after they've been out of that home for weeks or months. If you believe your home has a mold problem, you should have a mold-testing professional visit and check.

Above all, it must be stressed that you can not diagnose yourself with mold sickness or mold allergies. Only a doctor can do that. A doctor, specifically an immunologist, will be able to determine best whether you are looking at an allergy or a disease.

If you suspect that you have a mold disease, you should see your doctor immediately.

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