What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus, but there are many types of fungus that are not molds. The Fungi kingdom is made up of many types of organisms, none of which are capable of producing their own energy. Mold is one of them. There are thousands of different types of Molds.
In nature it’s job is to break down dead or decomposing matter. It is part of nature’s clean up crew. Virtually all mold that grows indoors comes from outside sources. Spores can be blown indoors or carried in with insects, people, pets, and items.
Mold Needs 4 Things to Grow
- Mold Spores
- Food Source
- Ideal Temperature (60-90 degrees Fahrenheit)
The reason mold growth occurs indoors is that there is usually moisture, lots of organic food sources, stagnant areas of air where ventilation is poor or air is being recirculated, and ideal temperatures.
What causes Mold to grow?
Mold is a plant-like organism that does not produce chlorophyll, which is what plants use to grow. Since they lack the ability to produce chlorophyll thus energy, they must absorb it from outside sources. These sources can be any organic material such as wood, paper & cardboard, food, dust particles, etc.
How Does Mold Cause Allergies?
Mold spores themselves can be interpreted by the body’s immune system as a threat, eliciting an allergic response. They also produce toxic substances called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are powerful chemical agents produced by fungi. They have been used to make antibiotics, drugs, and even implemented for use in chemical warfare.
Who is at Risk for Mold Allergies?
Anybody, really. It depends on the body. An allergic reaction can be caused by very minute levels of Mold spores. Obviously the higher the concentration of Mold, the more likely an immune response is to be triggered.
How to Treat Mold Allergies
- Prevention is the safest most effective way to treat Mold Allergies. It is impossible for mold to grow without moisture so maintaining a clean dry environment is key.
- Allergen Immunotherapy
Typically the first bottle you reach for once allergy symptoms hit are the anti-histamines. Benadryl, Claritin, & Allegra are in this category. There are others too but I don’t recall them all & I believe you get the idea here. If you would like a more complete list of prescription & non-prescription anti-histamines go to this webMD page. When the body senses a threat-an allergen-it releases histamine, which is the chemical that causes your nose to run, eyes to water, various areas to swell, rashes & hives. Anti-histamines work to block the chemicals your immune system has produced in response the allergen it has detected. While anti-histamines don’t actually stop the inflammation, they do limit or inhibit the process that causes inflammation.
The next line of defense are your corticosteroid. These guys are the main anti-inflammatory medicines. Once your immune system has gone into full blown attack mode & it’s just blowing up & having a hey-day, it has probably caused a fair amount of discomfort, & this is due to the inflammation response going on in your tissues. Corticosteroids can be taken orally such as prednisone, applied topically such as cortisone & hydrocortisone, as nasal sprays & inhalers, or they can be injected.
Oddly enough the last thing that is usually discussed, if discussed at all, is allergen immunotherapy treatment. This is the first line of defense an allergy sufferer can & absolutely should utilize. Immunotherapy works by introducing very small amounts of an allergen to the immune system via sublingual drops, or drops of the medicine administered under the tongue. In these small amounts the body is able to develop a defense against the allergen before it ever reaches levels that cause the allergic response in your immune system. Immunotherapy sublingual drops are available over the counter.