When leaves fall, your allergies start to call
Mold and Fall Allergies
Fall’s changing leaves can be a breath-taking sight. Unfortunately, those pretty leaves are also the cause of an increase in mold, which is the biggest allergy culprit in the fall months. As leaves begin to fall and accumulate on the ground, they accumulate moisture which stimulates mold growth. Unlike pollen, another common seasonal allergen, mold spores aren’t killed off by frost. Because of this the fall is often the worst allergy season of the year for mold and allergy sufferers.
Common symptoms of mold and other fall allergies often include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- A stuffy or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Pressure in the forehead or around the eyes
Mold can also trigger or worsen asthma symptoms, regardless if the individual is allergic to mold.
Mold affects allergy sufferers when mold spores present in the air enter the nasal cavity. As with all allergies, avoiding the allergen is the best defense. If you are allergic to mold, there are ways to reduce your exposure to mold both indoors and outdoors.
Effective ways to limit your exposure to mold outdoors include:
- Wearing a mask when raking leaves or mowing
- Promptly remove dying or dead plants and leaves from your garden or yard and near the foundation of your home and in gutters
- Keeping car and house windows closed
- Limiting outdoor activity when mold counts are at their highest
Indoors, there are several areas throughout the home that can produce mold. Mold is most commonly found in damp areas like bathrooms, the basement, kitchen or laundry area. Fortunately there are steps you can take to prevent mold from forming in your home.
Preventing mold in your home:
- Addressing plumbing issues or leaks right away
- Using an exhaust fan or an open window during activities that may increase moisture and humidity in the air including baths or showers and when cooking and washing dishes
- Removing carpeting from areas likely to become wet, such as bathrooms and laundry areas
- Cleaning tubs and sinks regularly; mold is attracted to soaps and other films that accumulate on tile and grout
- Showering at night helps to remove mold spores from hair and skin
- Removing clothing from the washing machine to avoid leaving damp clothes lying around
- Using a fan to help circulate the air in your home
- Using a HEPA filter with your centralized air conditioning to help trap mold spores
- Keeping pets, especially dogs, groomed (they are notorious for playing in leaves or mulch and can bring mold inside on their fur)
If you notice mold in your home, always use gloves and a mask when cleaning up the area.
There is no cure for allergies, but treatment options are available. Your health care provider may recommend medications including antihistamines and nasal sprays to help alleviate symptoms. Allergy shots may also be an effective way to reduce allergy symptoms.
If you think you may suffer from mold or other seasonal allergies, talk to your doctor about what treatment option is right for you.
For questions, or to schedule an appointment with an allergist, you can call DMG’s Allergy department at 630-545-7833 or by visiting us online at www.dupagemedicalgroup.com/asthma-allergy/.