Be greater than your allergies

Be greater than your allergies

HOW TO EASE MOLD AND MILDEW ALLERGIES AT HOME

USE THESE TIPS TO REDUCE HOME-BASED ALLERGENS 

Air Purifiers for Allergies

Mold and mildew may not be the first things that comes to mind when thinking of allergens, but they shouldn’t be underestimated. They can grow in your basement, your bathroom or even under your kitchen sink when a leak goes undetected. These situations can pose a serious threat to your health, and your home.

There are thousands of known species of molds and mildews. And they aren’t always visible to the naked eye. Mold can be a nightmare for those who are allergic. Here are tips for recognizing and dealing with a mold or mildew problem in your home. 

KNOW THE SYMPTOMS

Mold and mildew are growths that thrive on moisture left for too long. Both are a form of fungi, and you can tell them apart by their color. Mildew is white or light gray and grows on plants, while mold comes in a variety of colors like black, blue and green. If you have a mold or mildew allergy, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores. Allergic reactions include coughing, sneezing, irritated eyes and a runny, stuffy nose.

If you are unsure whether or not you have a mold allergy, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, professor of pediatrics at NYU and allergist at Allergy Asthma Associates of Murray Hill, recommends getting a skin test. A skin test is something any allergist can do, which essentially involves putting a small amount of an allergen onto your skin to see if it causes an allergic reaction.

“Typically, they’ll test you for 15 different types of mold,” Ehrlich said.

KNOW THAT MOLD HAPPENS YEAR-ROUND

While there certainly are pollen seasons, mold can be a problem any time of year. That’s because moisture is everywhere. Also, it grows rapidly in any room that has a humidity above 50 percent, according to the Mayo Clinic. Be sure to keep temperatures cool and open a window if necessary.

“Warmth and humidity is a problem,” Ehrlich said. “Also when there’s spring rain and when there’s dying vegetation [fallen leaves]. Whenever there’s an excess of moisture, the molds become a problem.” 

DON’T JUST SETTLE FOR A TEMPORARY SOLUTION

If you have a damp basement, leaky faucet or bathroom that’s overflowed, just cleaning up the mess may not be enough. Make sure the moisture hasn’t seeped into the floors, because if so you may need to pull up your floorboards to make sure you’re mold-free. This may seem drastic, but unaddressed moisture will just build up.

Ehrlich said the same can happen with mold in walls. Just painting over an area with mold will not correct the problem.

“I've seen pictures where it looks like there’s just black mold that’s in the ceiling or in the walls,” Ehrlich said. “People think they can just paint over it and get rid of it. But sometimes you need to take down all the walls and replace them down to the studs.”

MAKE SURE WATER DRAINS AWAY FROM YOUR HOUSE

Finally, an infrastructural problem that Ehrlich warns against is when water drains toward a house instead of away from it. This can happen when a house is on a downward slope, and can cause an excess of basement mold.

“I had a patient whose whole house had to be torn down because when putting drains in, they should have drained away from house,” Ehrlich said. “They had a big storm and the house was ruined.”

ALL ABOUT ALLERGIES

All the information you need to lead a life that’s not limited by allergies. See all articles

ALL ABOUT ALLERGIES

All the information you need to lead a life that’s not limited by allergies. See all articles