Mold: A Trigger for Asthma and Allergy
Asthma is a serious disease that affects your ability to breathe. Many people who suffer from asthma have symptoms with exposure to mold. Mold and mildew are fungi, a type of organism that reproduces via spores. Spores are airborne particles that grow in wet or damp environments. Mold can be found both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor mold is most common from July through the fall. Indoor mold can occur year-round.
Controlling Mold in the Home
Mold requires moisture to grow. Therefore, common places to find indoor mold are bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Areas that have been exposed to leaks, floods, or poor ventilation are more susceptible to mold growth.
Heating & Air Conditioning
Utilize your heating & air conditioning system to help control mold. You should:
- Change your air conditioning and heating system filters frequently
- Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters
Tips for Controlling Mold in the Bathroom
Because bathrooms often harbor moisture, you should:
- Run the bathroom exhaust fan while showering or bathing
- Squeegee shower and tub walls to remove water from them after use
- Avoid leaving or wet clothes or towels in a basket or hamper in the bathroom
- Replace or clean shower curtains, especially when there is visible mold
Controlling Mold in the Basement
Basements are particularly susceptible to mold growth, but there are steps you can take to minimize it:
- Monitor your basement for moisture and mold
- Run a dehumidifier to keep basement air drier. Keeping humidity less than 30% to 50% is an excellent way to lessen mold growth.
Homes in General
Other strategies to reduce indoor mold growth include:
- Ensure that faucets and pipes are free from leaks
- If pipes sweat, wrap them with insulation
- All sinks and tubs should be kept dry
- Make sure to periodically empty water from refrigerator freezer trays
- Use vaporizers sparingly – do not run them continuously as they create moisture
- There are no government standards established for mold or mold spore levels in homes or businesses – so it is not possible to say a place follows health standards for mold or mold spore.
What Happens When an Allergy or Asthma Patient is Exposed to Mold
Like other environmental allergens, mold spores can trigger hay fever-like symptoms such as
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy/watery eyes
In patients with both mold allergy and asthma, asthma symptoms may be triggered by mold exposure. Signs of an asthma attack include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
Most allergy symptoms caused by mold are uncomfortable, but not serious. However, there are certain allergic conditions that can be more severe. These include:
- Allergic fungal sinusitis. This is a type of sinus infection/disease caused by an inflammatory response to fungus in the sinuses.
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis or mycosis: This is an inflammatory condition of the lungs, more common in patients with asthma or cystic fibrosis.
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis: This rare condition is triggered by airborne particles including mold spores.
The Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center was founded in 1952. Today, the center has expanded to 12 offices in the Charlotte for your convenience. Each office has one of 15 board-certified allergists providing patient care. For more information or to schedule an appointment.