Black mold, or Stachybotrys atra, should be treated the same as all other molds with regard to health risks and removal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All molds may pose risks for people with allergies and allergy-induced asthma. High concentrations of fungal colonies, such as those growing in water-damaged flooring or building materials, can cause severe allergy symptoms, from flu-like discomfort to life-threatening asthma attacks.
When mold allergy symptoms hit hard and fast, an over-the-counter antihistamine can provide immediate relief. Patients may not see an allergy bout coming due to the growth habits of black mold. These tiny fungal organisms only become visible when enough grow together to form a mycelium. Most over-the-counter antihistamine allergy medications are designed for fast-acting, short-term relief of runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology notes that patients can choose from sedating formulas such as clemastine, diphenhydramine or cetirizine, or nondrowsy loratadine, without a prescription. These should be taken after known mold exposure or when symptoms develop.
Antihistamines don’t treat the stuffy-nose congestion that can make breathing difficult and disturb patients’ sleep. The Mayo Clinic reports that decongestant nasal sprays such as oxymetazoline and pseudoephedrine relieve these symptoms for a short period but can't safely be used for longer than a week. Oral decongestants often add a sedating antihistamine to the formula, making them impractical to take for long periods. Prescription drugs may hold better choices than these combination allergy medications for patients who frequently have black mold allergy symptoms.
Air Quality Treatments
Once the initial respiratory and itching problems have been addressed, patients should treat their environments to reduce mold spore allergens. This may include cleaning hard surfaces with bleach solutions or removing infested carpeting, upholstery, wallpaper or other mold habitats. The CDC advises using ventilation or humidity control devices to achieve 40 percent to 60 percent indoor humidity thereafter, to discourage black mold growth.
Prescription Allergy Medication
Patients who need longer-term drug therapy for ongoing mold allergy symptoms should request doctor prescriptions based on their overall health conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, nasal corticosteroids such as flunisolide manage symptoms more effectively than prescription antihistamine allergy medications. People whose asthma grows worse after mold exposure may need an inhaled oral corticosteroid such as bethclomasone or fluticasone to manage their chronic symptoms.