Mold, also known as fungus/fungi, and are found throughout nature and in our daily lives. Fungi and mold can be found indoor and outdoors. They cause odor, discoloration and health problems that lead to allergic reactions. An allergic reaction is the body’s abnormal response to non-harmful material and can produce a number of symptoms.
Unlike plants, mold needs food and water in order to thrive. No one really knows how many species of fungi and mold exist, but reports show an estimate of three hundred thousand or more fungi and mold co-exiting in our habitat.
Symptoms one would experience if they have a mold/fungal allergy?
- Headaches caused by mold/fungi
- Eye irritation
- Post nasal drip caused by irritation to the mucus membrane linings.
- Itching, rashes, hives, uticaria or red patches forming on the skin
- In sever cases; mold/fungal allergies may affect the ears and cause hearing problems, imbalance or unsteadiness.
- Runny nose/rhinitis
- Post nasal dip
- Irritation to foods can cause an upset stomach, stomach cramps or diarrhea.
Molds grows in units called mycelium and reproduce through the formation of spores. The fungi and mold found in office buildings and homes release tiny spores that frequently become airborne, and like pollen, can make your allergic reaction worse causing you to sneeze, have nasal congestion, shortness of breath, eye and throat irritation as well as cause inflammation in the throat. People normally complain of symptoms such as (fatigue, eye irritation, lack of sleep, irritability and respiratory conditions).
Where do mold and fungi grow outdoors?
Mold can be found in damp cool places which contain oxygen. In certain cases and with certain molds, higher temperatures are preferable. In the fall you can find mold growing on leaves that have fallen, rotting branches or logs and moist/shady areas. Some mold grows on wheat, barley, corn and oats.
Mold that grows in homes is normally found in closets, basements, showers, were fresh food is stored, in refrigerators (water trays, food that has been standing for long period of time), humidifiers, garbage bins, house plants and mattresses.
There are two common molds that are found in and outdoors. They are alternaria and cladosporium:
- Alternaria - Found outdoors. These molds are found on leaves that have fallen, rotting logs and dead plants.
- Cladosporium – Found outdoors and indoors
- Helminthosporium – found on celery and rooted vegetables
- Epicoccum - mold commonly isolated from air, soil and foodstuff, found also in some animals and textiles and is the common causative agent of leaf spots of various plants.
- Penicillium - Usually found living on foods and indoors environments. This mold is prolific in most basements
- Aspergillus - indoor mold. Normally found in soil, dust, vegetation and water.
- Mucor - An indoor mold commonly found in our bread supplies. It is also commonly found in water logged areas and moist foods.
Treatments for Mold/Fungal Allergies:
- Medications bronchodilators, antihistamines and corticosteroids
- Bronchodilators -are prescription medications used to relax the smooth muscles of constricted airways when they have an allergic reaction.
- Immunotherapy/Desensitization - This is a technique whereby a person receives small amounts of the allergen containing substance over a period of time, allowing the body to become accustom to the allergy causing materials. Over a period of time, a person’s immune system no longer recognizes the “allergen material” as harmful and no allergy symptoms are experienced.
Tips to prevent mold/fungi in your home as well as outdoors:
The best way to prevent mold in your home is by creating a situation in which mold finds it difficult to colonize and breed:
- Use ALLERGY reduction products throughout your home
- Store foods in sealed containers
- Ensure your home and basement is not too humid thereby making it harder for molds to flourish
- Ensure bathrooms have adequate ventilation to help them dry post bathing
- Wash shower curtains and bathroom tiles regularly with warm water containing vinegar or lemon juice.
- Paint can now be bought which contains mold inhibitor properties.
Common foods which promote mold development include:
- Fish, hot dogs and defrosted meat
- Smoked meat
- Preserves such as jams
- Food containing vinegar (salad dressing, catsup and pickles)
- Dried fruits such as raisins or prunes
- Soy sauce
- Yeast and yeast containing foods
- Canned juices
- Highly processed foods are more likely to develop mold
- Any breads left in the bread bin provide an ideal environment in which mold spores can develop.
Dairy products such as:
- Cheeses, especially soft cheese
- Sour cream or milk
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