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Mold Allergy

Mold doesn't just hide in dark, damp basements. It can grow on your bathroom tiles or around your windows. You may bring it in the house on your shoes, where it settles in on the carpet. 

Mold is everywhere: Outside on leaves and rotting wood and inside in damp basements. So mold allergies can happen year round.

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The symptoms of a mold allergy are like those of other nasal allergies -- sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, and itchy, watery eyes. Untreated mold allergy can sometimes lead to more serious health problems.

How Mold Causes Allergies

Mold is a fungus with a big job in the natural world, breaking down dead plant matter. It spreads through tiny spores that can cause an allergic reaction. Only a few types of mold actually cause allergies.

How to Tell You're Allergic

The only way you can know for sure you have a mold allergy is to see an allergist. He will ask about your symptoms and what seems to trigger them. If he thinks you have a mold allergy, he'll probably do allergy testing to confirm it.

When Mold Allergies Happen

Although mold allergies can happen any time of year, outside they can be worse in summer and fall. They can be especially bad when wet leaves sit around in piles.

Preventing Symptoms

Outside:

  • Avoid mold as much as you can. Stay inside when mold counts are high.
  • Keep wet leaves away from your house. Clean gutters.
  • Take off your shoes at the door.
  • Get rid of standing water outside.

Inside:

  • Clean your bathroom often and get rid of soap scum, which can harbor mold. When you shower, open a window or run an exhaust fan.
  • Fix any leaks right away. Drying wet areas within 48 hours usually prevents mold.
  • Run a dehumidifier in damp basements or other rooms.
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

To Treat Symptoms

  • Try over-the-counter antihistamines, eye drops, or nasal sprays. 
  • Talk to your doctor about prescription drugs, including allergy shots.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on November 12, 2012

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