It’s Not Just Pollen: The Hidden Cause of Many Allergies
When the trees bloom, seasonal allergies go into full affect. Therefore, most of us assume our runny noses, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats are caused by pollen. But what’s really causing the mayhem is not just pollen; it can be mold.
Warmer weather and increased humidity create the perfect environment in which mold grows. Mold is a serious allergen that we don’t often think about as a contributor to allergy and asthma attacks. But it plays a big role.
Unlike pollen, which you can see coating cars, windows, and other items, indoor mold can hide easily in your home (or workplace) – behind walls, in air ducts, under sinks, and in other hard-to-see places. Once it takes hold, it will continue to grow under the right conditions unless something is done about it.
How do you know if you have a mold allergy?
One telltale sign of a mold allergy is if your symptoms get worse or act up when you are in one specific location over others. Indoors, that could mean your home or office, and you may have a mold or indoor air quality issue in that location. The symptoms of mold exposure are similar to those of allergic reactions. However, if you suffer from asthma, mold spores can actually complicate your symptoms and even trigger an attack.
Common symptoms of indoor mold exposure can include:
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy throat
- Runny nose, nasal drip
- Skin rash
The Best Way to Tell the Difference
How do you know when your symptoms are no longer allergies and actually a reaction to indoor mold? The best way to find out is to have your home or office tested for mold by an independent environmental inspector – one that only tests and does not remediate. This will ensure that the results are unbiased and accurate. Testing for mold will confirm or rule out the issue so that you can take the necessary steps toward better health.
RTK Environmental Group is an independent company that specializes in environmental testing. RTK can test for mold, volatile organic compounds, radon, asbestos, lead, and other dangerous toxins that can negatively affect your health. Unlike many companies, RTK only does inspections, so there is no conflict of interest in terms of remediation.
Take These Steps to Minimize the Symptoms
While there is no cure for a mold allergy, you can certainly be more comfortable and even be symptom free by taking these steps.
- Test for mold
- Remove sources of indoor mold
- Use a dehumidifier, especially in your basement to keep humidity levels below 50%
- Regularly clean AC, HVAC, and fan ducts to prevent spores from being distributed (and redistributed)
- Regularly check under your sink for leaks and dampness
- Keep your gutters free from organic debris (year-round)
- Regularly clean your bathroom and use the fan after showering to keep the bathroom dry
When It’s Really Important to Test for Mold
If you had a water intrusion of any sort over the winter, you should test for mold. Spring is the time of year when mold that may have been dormant over the winter tends to come to life. All mold needs to grow is moisture, warmth, and any organic surface (like drywall). If you had a leak from an ice dam, flooding, or pipe break this winter, you should be on high alert. Chances are there’s a mold colony in full bloom. Have your home tested at the first sign or scent of a problem.
The Link Between Mold & Asthma
Here’s a scary fact: infants who live in homes that contain mold are three times more likely to develop asthma by age seven, the age at which asthma can be diagnosed, according to a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Studies also found that four common indoor fungi species – Cladosporium, Alternaria, Penicillium and Aspergillus – increased the risk of asthma symptoms between 36% and 48%. These studies indicated that these molds could trigger the development of asthma in otherwise healthy individuals.
What Should You Do?
Don’t just assume that because you are sneezing, you’re allergic to spring pollens and allergens. If you smell a musty odor, you likely have a mold problem that can exacerbate your allergies. Indoor mold can cause serious health complications. By testing for mold and poor indoor air quality, not only will you be safer and healthier, but you’ll also breathe easier. RTK will provide you with a blueprint for remediation so you can hire the contractor of your choosing to do the work. By pinpointing the source of the mold, you can often save thousands in unnecessary repairs. Call RTK at 800.392.6468 or visit www.rtkenvironmental.com. Live well!