Allergies among Americans are on the rise. According to a 2011 report from Quest Diagnostics, growing sensitivity to mold, mildew and ragweed outpaced the rate of increase for other common allergy triggers. People who are allergic to mold or mildew are also frequently allergic to other substances, such as pollen, dander and dust mites. Symptoms caused by a mold or mildew allergy are the same as for other airborne allergy triggers. Allergy testing is the only way to know for sure what substances are causing your allergy symptoms.
An allergic reaction to mold or mildew typically causes characteristic symptoms, collectively known as allergic rhinitis. Nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drip and itchiness in the nose or mouth commonly occur. Allergies to certain kinds of mold or mildew can sometimes cause sinus problems, including chronic sinusitis or polyps.
Asthma symptoms may occur in some people who are allergic to mold or mildew. Mold-induced asthma symptoms may be immediate and include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, rapid breathing and chest tightness. If you are allergic to mold or mildew, ongoing exposure can make your asthma more difficult to control. Keeping the humidity in your home low and wearing a mask in damp places can help limit your exposure to mold and prevent worsening asthma symptoms.
Mold and mildew allergy can cause allergic conjunctivitis. Symptoms include redness, itchiness, excessive tearing and eyelid swelling. These symptoms typically occur in addition to nasal symptoms. Avoiding exposure to mold and mildew is your first line of defense. Allergy medicines can also help control these and other symptoms associated with sensitivity to mold or mildew.
Ongoing exposure to mold or mildew and persistent nasal congestion due to an allergy can cause other symptoms. You may experience a sore throat or dry cough from postnasal drip. Some people have sinus pressure or headaches. You may notice your ears seem clogged or pop frequently.
These and other symptoms of an allergy to mold or mildew can usually be well controlled with allergy medication. Talk with your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms to discuss the best management strategy for your condition.
- Quest Diagnostics: Allergies Across America
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: Mold Allergy
- American Rhinologic Society: Fungal Sinusitis
- Allergy in ENT Practice: The Basic Guide; Hueston King and Richard Mabry