Molds – They’re Everywhere!

Molds are fungi that are found everywhere – indoors and outdoors. Outdoors, mold grows in soil, dead leaves, plants, compost piles, and rotting wood. The “seeds” of mold, called spores, float in the air, similar to pollen. Unlike pollen, a hard frost does not kill mold.(1)

Everyone inhales mold spores, but in people who are allergic, inhaling the spores triggers an immune system response. This can cause hay fever like symptoms. The mold spores can also make their way to the lungs, which can trigger asthma.(2) While reactions can happen right away, sometimes mold allergy results in delayed symptoms, such as persistent nasal congestion or worsening asthma.(1)
A major health system lists the following as symptoms of a mold allergy:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry, scaly skin(3)

These symptoms can mimic symptoms of other conditions, and the only definitive way to determine a mold allergy is skin testing.(2)

There are more than one hundred types of molds. The most common allergy-causing molds are:

  • Alternaria
  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium

Raking leaves and gardening can stir mold into the air, bringing on symptoms. Avoiding mold is best, but for those who do rake leaves or mow grass, The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends wearing a NIOSH rated N95 mask.(4)

(1) Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, What is Mold Allergy, https://www.aafa.org/
(2) American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, Mold Allergy, https://www.aaaai.org/
(3) Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/
(4) American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, Four Things You Might Not Know About Fall Allergies, https://acaai.org/news/