What is Mold Allergy?
Mold spores are all around us, in the form of thousands of different species of mold. They manifest themselves on walls, in damp spaces, on food, and in public spaces. To most people, the near-constant contact with mold is virtually undetectable. To those with mold allergy, the contact can lead to a whole host of problems that can range from physical to mental.
Symptoms of Mold Allergy
Recognizing the trigger of your allergy can help you to seek relief from the symptoms. Weather conditions such as rain, wind, and storms can exacerbate the mold that is present and cause it to be in the air for longer than usual. You may experience coughing, watery eyes, wheezing, and rashes during an episode. These symptoms are typically similar to those of seasonal allergies and may not immediately pinpoint the real culprit.
There are other, more surprising symptoms of mold allergy, such as anxiety, insomnia, memory loss, and confusion. Other conditions that a person already has may make the mold allergy worse, usually without the sufferer having any idea why he or she is feeling ill. There is no direct test for mold allergy. Doctors must take into account the patient’s medical history and rely on ruling out other allergies and ailments before settling on the mold allergy diagnosis.
Depression and Mold
Scientists found that persons living in high-mold environments also suffer from higher rates of depression. After researchers factored in other variables that may contribute to depression, such as poverty or overcrowded housing, there still remained a 28-34% higher rate of depression than among the general population. While researchers cannot safely say mold allergy is directly related to depression, it is a factor that doctors must consider when treating patients for depression.
In severe cases, mold types can affect the central nervous system and lead to inflammation in the body. Inflammation is an important factor in mental health disorders and can lead the body to display symptoms of illness after a short period of time. For instance, doctors have found cases in which diagnosed dementia was instead inflammation-induced by mold spores and not related to Alzheimer’s at all.
Prevention and Treatment
To rule out mold allergy or to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms altogether, you should ensure your home and work environments are scrubbed of mold. The best way to check for mold is to buy a test kit, although professional companies are able to perform the tests for you. Once mold is detected, efforts should be made to reduce moisture such as using dehumidifiers and removing any standing water. Some mold-affected materials may have to be replaced, to include insulation and flooring materials. Ventilation is vital in preventing dampness and reducing the risk of mold. Once the mold has been treated in the environment, treatment in the form of taking allergy medication should begin.
Marcus has a degree in psychology, a masters degree in health psychology and has worked within the NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus started psysci a psychology and science blog in order to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources.