Allergy to Outdoor Mold Spores

By staff

If you have an allergy that lasts almost all year round, you may be suffering from a sensitivity to mold spores. Molds can grow anywhere. If a mold source is disturbed, mold spores can disperse. The allergens produced by molds are found in mold spores, and inhaling these airborne spores can cause the allergic reactions.

What is a mold spore?

Mold spores are seeds of molds and fungi. Outdoor mold spores grow in moist shady areas, such as soil, decaying leaves, compost piles, and rotting wood. Mold spore counts are higher when it rains or when the weather is very humid. They would also grow during harvest season, around the barn and in stacks of hay.

Unlike pollens, the dispersal of outdoor mold spores is not as seasonal. Some are released in dry, windy conditions, while other spores are released in high humidity when there is fog and dew. Actually, molds disperse spores anywhere that’s damp and humid, at any time of the year, and individuals who are exposed to such damp environments experience allergic reactions that last for quite a long time.

What causes a mold spore allergy?

Since they are everywhere, they are not easy to avoid. Inhaling mold spores causes allergies. You are exposed if you walk through moist uncut fields, work on a compost pile or dry soil, cut grass and rake leaves.

There are many types of outdoor mold spores but only a few are allergenic. The most commonly found molds are Alternaria and Cladosporium (Hormodendrum). Other allergenic outdoor molds include Helminthosporium, Epicoccum, Fusarium, Mucor, and Rhizopus are the major culprits. These mold spores can be recognized under a microscope.

What are the symptoms?

Outdoor mold spore allergies are triggered by inhaling the spores. The primary symptom is allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, wherein the mucous membranes of the nose and sinus areas are inflamed. There is sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal congestion and dry, scaling skin. The eyes, however, are rarely affected, unlike with pollen allergies, conjunctivitis may develop. If the inhaled mold spores reach the lungs, the individual might develop asthma. Symptoms may last the entire year depending on the severity of the allergy.

Sometimes, eating foods such as cheeses processed with fungi, mushrooms, dried fruits, and foods that contain yeast, soy sauce, or vinegar can cross-react with the mold spores and worsen the symptoms.

People are more likely to have a mold spore allergy if any family member is allergic to other airborne substances such as pollen and animal dander. Farmers, dairymen, loggers, mill workers, carpenters and woodworkers, gardeners, wine makers, and furniture builders, and those whose job requires them to be exposed to molds each day have a higher risk of developing allergies.

How can a mold spore allergy be prevented?

You cannot cure a mold spore allergy, but there are ways to prevent allergic reactions by reducing your exposure to the allergens.

When outdoors, avoid walking through decaying vegetation, compost piles, and fallen leaves because you might inhale mold spores. Avoid doing yard work, such as lawn mowing and raking leaves on a hot, humid day. Avoid farms, especially during harvest time when mold spores could be growing around the barn or under a stack of hay. And wear a face mask outdoors if possible.

3 Comments »

Rhonda Smith:

I have Asthma and bad allergy to molds. I am in Ohio and it is hot and humid and mold spores are over 3,000, high. I live in an apartment and must do my laundry in a laundry room with no A/C (when I have multiple allergies and must keep a 1300 3M filter in and KEEP THE WINDOWS SHUT YEAR ROUND). Worse, I live first time with a broiler system and have hard time with this but no money to move. How can I do my backed up laundry without bringing in the mold and the ragweed which is 68 – my second worst allergy?

August 27th, 2014 | 5:51 pm
Rhonda Smith:

Additional noteworthy comment: It is nighttime and I breathe easier, but cannot locate information if Mold Spores go down at night time. The door to laundry is left open . . . so. I must wash my allergen pillows in front loading washing machine so I go to indoor “wash here and dry for free” but do not know if they have mold and pollen catching filters. So, I am guessing its best to go to this place and ALL MY LAUNDRY RIGHT NOW. I NEVER OPEN MY CAR WINDOWS EITHER; HOWEVER, I DO PUT MY PILLOWS AFTER FULLY DRY IN TRASH BAGS AND CARRY THEM OUT AND IN, WIPE DOWN TRASH BAGS AND THEN REMOVE. I have multiple illness such as fibromyalgia, chronic bronchitis, dry scaly skin during mold high counts, migraines, autonomic nervous system instability (anything n auto pilot in my body not work good, goes to overheated and slams to 93 degree oral temperature (beginning hypothermia condition in the winter – nuerologist Dr. said it was from 105.6 degree temperature from spinal meningitis at age 8 and going out of ice tubes and out because they could not control my body temperature, therefore effecting this Auto Nervous System’s ability to control extremes. The excess amount of energy it takes to do these things why fybro causes fatigue is difficult. I am 51 and on disability and had first Asthma attack in 7th grade track meet and was forced off track team. I was born with bronchitis. Help please. Controlling my exposure at the “least amount of effort would be most beneficial to me. I also have hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia (only treatment for that is thyroid medicine and eat six to small meals a day — which exhausts me doing all those dishes. UGH.

August 27th, 2014 | 6:15 pm
Rhonda Smith:

Guess I will draw back and punt on doing my laundry, have one towel left clean and a few rags. All laundry is in bags due to exposure to outdoor activity before humidity and high mold count. No one is responding. Perhaps I should print this and go back to my 1980 allergist again. He should be able to help me; but I am broke at the moment, even if I bought new towels I would need to wash them. Miss having my own laundry room in home; but good to be divorced from an abusive — that is a better trade off.

August 27th, 2014 | 6:24 pm
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