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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.
Mold is a type of living organism with spores that float through the air. It’s often compared to or described as “tiny fungi.” There are nearly a thousand different species of mold in the United States alone. While mold can be visible on surfaces if it accumulates in large enough quantities, it’s also possible that you could have mold in your workplace or home without seeing it because its spores are so small.
Any environment that is damp can attract mold, but what will keep it around is water, a humid temperature, air, and food. Mold doesn’t discriminate between indoor or outdoor environments, and will easily grow in both.
Not everyone who’s exposed to mold will develop a mold allergy. However, if you do have a mold allergy or develop one, there are a handful of risk factors that could increase your likelihood of experiencing symptoms.
Frequent or increased exposure to mold is one of the biggest risk factors. For example, if your home isn’t properly ventilated, then you’re inviting mold to grow. Mold prefers warm, humid environments, and kitchens and/or bathrooms with insufficient ventilation have both in spades. Always try to improve ventilation and dispel excess moisture with fans or dehumidifiers.
The same is true of other areas in your home if you maintain a very humid environment. To discourage mold, you should try to maintain humidity at no more than 50 percent. This goes for the whole home, as mold can develop anywhere that gets warm or moist enough, from carpets to walls.
The last two risk factors to keep in mind is your job and your family history. If you work in industries like furniture repair, winemaking, greenhouses, carpentry, millwork, baking, logging, dairy, and/or farming, you may be exposed to moldy conditions more often than the average person. A family background of asthma and/or allergies also increases your chances of getting a mold allergy and experiencing symptoms.
If you already have mold and mildew allergies, then you may wonder, does mold cause asthma as well? The ACAAI states that for some people with asthma, what starts their asthma attacks is coming into contact with an allergen. In this case, that allergen would be mold, but others include pollen or pet dander. In addition irritants such as smoke or perfumes can also be a problem.
Not only is breathing in these particles unhealthy for your airways, but it goes deeper than that. In the case of allergens, your immune system produces histamines and other chemicals which lead to an asthma attack.
Mold is present both indoors and outdoors. It can also trigger both allergies and asthma attacks. If mold particles are floating through the air invisible to you, then you could inhale them as you go about your daily life without realizing.
Like other environmental allergens, mold spores can trigger hay fever-like symptoms such as:
In patients with both mold allergy and asthma, asthma symptoms may be triggered by mold exposure. Signs of an asthma attack include:
Most allergy symptoms caused by mold are uncomfortable, but not serious. However, there are certain allergic conditions that can be more severe. These include:
If you or another family member suffers from a mold allergy, you’ll want to do what you can to avoid mold and asthma dangers. Here are some tips for doing just that:
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.
Utilize your heating & air conditioning system to help control mold. You should:
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.
The kitchen is another room mold loves. When you’re cooking and generating a lot of steam, use your exhaust fans. You may want to open a nearby window or door as well so the air circulates. Check and clean any other exhaust vents in the kitchen regularly so they function effectively.
Mold can be a health risk even for adults and children, but it’s particularly problematic for people with known mold allergies and asthma. Along with the tasks you can do to manage mold yourself, Carolina Asthma & Allergy can help you manage allergies and asthma with effective treatment plans.
The Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center was founded in 1952. Today, the center has expanded to 13 offices in the area Charlotte for your convenience. Each office has one of 16 board-certified allergists providing patient care. Contact us for more information on how we can help with your mold allergy or asthma problems, or to schedule an appointment.