Mold Allergies and Asthma
Mold. It grows on bathroom walls, it makes basements smell bad, and it ruins perfectly good loaves of bread. And if you're allergic to it, there's a good chance that mold will add to your misery.
The spores from common molds function much like the pollen from ragweed. If you inhale the spores, you could get a case of allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever -- an unpleasant combination of runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, itching, congestion and coughing. And if you have asthma, the spores may trigger attacks. More than 80 types of mold have been associated with lung, nose, and throat problems, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI). (What's causing your allergies? Take this test and find out.)
It's possible that mold may even lead to the development of asthma. Until recently, there was no strong evidence that mold could cause asthma, and there's still no medical consensus that it does. But a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2005 found that children who grew up in homes with a mold odor had more than a 100 percent chance of developing asthma in the following six years. (How bad is your asthma? Get personalized recommendations to manage it better.)
Fortunately, only about 25 percent of people with allergies are allergic to mold, according to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). The organization estimates that 10 percent of Americans are allergic to mold, and for about half of them, the allergy may result in an actual illness. The good news is that you can reduce your exposure to mold with a few simple steps.