by Cassandra Merkling
(last updated September 18, 2009)
Every day we are exposed to some kind of mold. It grows on food, in leaves, and just about anywhere that is dark and moist. There are people who have allergies to mold, though, and these people have a terrible time whenever they come in contact with too much mold. Mold allergies can be triggered by exposure to either mold itself or its spores. It is important that a person who is allergic to mold does not breathe in any mold, so smelling a food to see if it is starting to go bad or looking extremely closely at a food to see if it has mold on it is a bad idea.
Allergic reactions to mold can include teary and red eyes, coughing, wheezing, irritation of the skin (getting a rash, for example), sneezing and a runny nose. Of course, those who are unlucky enough to have asthma AND an allergy to mold will find their attacks triggered by mold or mold spores. And in severe cases, an allergic reaction can turn into fever, constricted breathing, and, in some people, even really bad infections of the lung. Symptoms of a mold allergy may manifest immediately or be delayed.
Those who already have allergies to something else are likely to also be allergic to mold. Not all mold causes allergies, though (there are only a couple of dozen molds that do so). Those who have been exposed often to mold (such as dairy workers and repairers of old furniture) will find that they are more likely to be allergic to mold than others who have not had much experience with it.
An allergy to mold can be diagnosed by a doctor. The doctor can do a skin test in which small scratches are made in the skin and an extract of a different mold will be placed in each scratch. The doctor will take a history of the patient, the results of the skin test, and any results found in a physical examination to make a diagnosis.
The best way to deal with an allergy, is to avoid the allergen. However, treatments for a mold allergy are available and include include medications and/or allergy injections.
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