Coughing & Sneezy All The Time? You May Be Allergic To Mold

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If you seem to always have allergy symptoms no matter what season it is, you may have an allergy to mold in your home. Mold can cause stuffy noses, coughing, wheezing and irritation of the eyes and throat, especially in people who are sensitive to mold. Here's what you need to know.

See an Allergist for Testing

Your first step is to get screened by an allergist. It's important to determine if your allergy symptoms are related to mold before it severely compromises your health. Some people may develop severe reactions to mold over time, such as obstructive lung disease and other chronic lung illnesses.

Tell the allergist what your symptoms are and that you are concerned that you may be allergic to mold. If you are diagnosed as having a mold allergy, you'll need to find the mold and remove it. If you are not diagnosed with a mold allergy, you may have a sensitivity to mold. Either way, it's a good idea to learn more about this topic and check for mold.

Where to Look for Mold in Your Home

Of course, you probably may have already looked for mold in your bathroom, since most people consider bathrooms to have the highest humidity levels. And, you may have already looked in your crawl space (or basement) and attic for mold, since those are fairly obvious areas as well. But, mold can be found in a number of other places. Here's where else to look:

  • Kitchen appliances—Your coffee maker may have mold in it. In fact, a study done by NSF International found yeast and mold growing in half of the coffee makers they tested. In some of the machines, the levels were high enough to cause illness. Talk about an eye-opening way to wake up in the morning! Clean your coffee maker with vinegar or a cleaning solution made specifically for coffee makers.
  • Dehumidifier/humidifier—These appliances work by either pulling moisture out of the air (dehumidifier) or putting moisture into the air (humidifier). Therefore, they can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. If you use a humidifier or a dehumidifier, be sure to keep the reservoir clean and mold-free. You can do this by occasionally cleaning the reservoir with a bleach cleaning solution. Just be sure to rinse the bleach thoroughly out of the reservoir before operating the appliances.
  • Air conditioner—Moisture can easily build up inside an air conditioner. As you know, anytime there is moisture present there is a risk of mold growth. Even though the mold may be deep inside the unit, you may smell it when the unit runs. However, don't assume there is no mold if you don't smell it. Assume the mold is there and hire a professional to clean mold from your air conditioning unit.
  • Heater ducts—Mold likes to grow where it is warm, which makes your heater ducts a perfect place when there is moisture in them. The worst part about mold growing inside heater ducts is that mold spores get dispersed into your home when the fan turns on to force the heat out of your heating system. Since this is another location that is hidden from your view, it's a good idea to hire a duct cleaning service to inspect your ducts for mold growth.  
  • Vents—The vents in your bathroom and kitchen can have mold growing in them. Since you are venting to the outdoors these vents typically shouldn't pose a problem. However, on windy days air could be forced through the vents from the outdoors and into your home, which can cause mold spores to affect your allergies. Carefully clean the vents or hire a heating contractor to do it for you.

It's important to remove the offending allergen so you can breathe easily again. After you've removed the mold from your home, you may find relief from your allergy symptoms. It's important to keep your home mold-free with regular maintenance of these appliances and utility systems.  

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30 January 2015

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