Allergies to the fungus Cladosporium can generate health symptoms all year long. Like some other molds, Cladosporium grows indoors and outdoors. According to the Mayo Clinic, its various strains are some of the most common allergenic mold species. Cladosporium growths appear green, brown or black. Outdoors, they grow on plant matter and release reproductive spores into the wind. Indoors, moist surfaces feed colonies, which infest indoor air currents with spores. Inhaling these particles causes allergic reactions in people with mold allergies.
Dispersed fungi cannot be seen without a microscope, but can be detected by smell. When colonies grow large enough, they will be visible as dark dots in wet areas, such as windows with condensation or bathroom shower stalls. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC reports, people who test their homes for mold need not identify the genus, because all indoor fungal growth impairs air quality. People who suspect mold allergies of causing healthy symptoms, however, can undergo medical testing for Cladosporium antibodies in their blood.
Allergic reactions can occur from outdoor contact with Cladosporium while gardening, mowing the lawn or raking leaves. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, or AAAAI, notes that mold counts in outdoor air change with the weather and seasons, with airborne higher concentrations after rain and low counts after frost.
Indoor air quality will depend upon reproductive cycles and how often people clean up moldy areas. The CDC recommends that people with perennial health symptoms practice mold prevention on a regular basis.
The Mayo Clinic reports that allergic reactions to indoor or outdoor Cladosporium share the same physical signs. Patients may experience itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sinus congestion and sneezing. In allergy patients who also have asthma, health symptoms can include sudden chest tightness, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Delegating yard chores to people who don’t have mold allergies or wearing a filter mask can prevent patients from getting health symptoms, notes the AAAAI. Indoors, allergy patients should remove all visible mold and keep air humidity below 50 percent.
Seasonal and perennial allergies can be managed, but not cured, with medications. Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants may suffice for occasional allergic reactions. For perennial mold allergies, the Mayo Clinic recommends highly effective nasal corticosteroids. These medications must be taken continually to provide ongoing symptom relief. Individuals with severe mold problems may be candidates for immunotherapy, a series of allergy shots that reduce sensitivity to Cladosporium and other identified mold allergens.