How are mold allergies treated?

Updated: Sep 18, 2017
  • Author: Shih-Wen Huang, MD; Chief Editor: Harumi Jyonouchi, MD  more...
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Answer

The most important aspect of patient care is providing information to the patient and, if the patient is a child, the parent. Successful treatment depends on the patient understanding the nature of the disease and that it may be a lifelong ailment. Successful treatment of symptoms largely depends on the cooperation of the patient. Books or pamphlets can often be helpful.

Allergen avoidance

The measures below can be applied to any of the 6 clinical conditions related to mold allergy.

Symptoms can be alleviated by decreasing exposure to the specific allergens. For mold allergy, the local environment should be kept dry, and dense vegetation around the house should be eliminated. The affected individual may also find that avoiding raking leaves or engaging in other activities likely to stir up mold spores in the immediate atmosphere is helpful. Eliminating other local irritants as much as possible is also helpful.

The importance of a nonsmoking environment cannot be stressed enough.

Humidifiers and vaporizers are sources of indoor mold growth if they are not well maintained. A dehumidifier may be useful if the house is located in a humid environment. Roof leaks or wet walls can be sources of mold infestation in the house. A report indicated that an air-conditioned car can be a potential source of fungal allergens. A study in Kansas City indicated that fungal allergens were highest in the homes of children with asthma.

In occupation-related mold allergy leading to allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA), allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis (ABPM), or extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA), the allergen can sometimes be removed from the environment. Otherwise, individuals perhaps should not work in that environment. Eliminating exposure helps control the disease in affected individuals and may prevent sensitization in unaffected but exposed individuals.

Simply altering the moisture content in the air and temperature can help. Avoiding or reducing the proliferation of normal airborne microbial contaminants that invariably occurs in the stagnant collection of water in air systems is crucial. Biocidal sterilizing agents must be considered for their low intrinsic toxicity and sensitizing potency. Recirculating filtered air is most economic but requires a high level of maintenance to decrease the load of respirable microbial allergens.

A study that examined in-home high fungal concentrations (>90th percentile), measured once within the first 3 months of life, as predictors of doctor-diagnosed allergic rhinitis in the first 5 years of life in 405 children in the Boston area indicated high measured fungal concentrations and reports of water damage, molds, or mildew in homes may predispose children with a family history of asthma or allergy to the development of allergic rhinitis. [23]

A study was conducted to evaluate the use of high efficiency in-duct air cleaners in patients with asthma triggered by fungal exposure. The results indicate the use of the system provide an effective means of controlling allergen levels not only in single room, like a portable air cleaner, but the entire house. The findings are useful for evaluating potential benefits of high efficiency in-duct filtration system.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, a study was conducted to determine whether mold exposure at the ages of 1 and/or 7 years was associated with asthma at the age of 7 years. Mold was assessed by a DNA-based analysis for the 36 molds that make up the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) at age 1 and 7 years. They found children living with a high ERMI-value (>5.2) home at age 1 year had more than twice the risk of developing asthma than those in low-ERMI value home (< 5.2). The study also showed air-conditioning at home reduced the risk of asthma development. This may be the first study that predicts the early exposure to molds at age 1 year would have significantly increased risk of asthma at age 7 years. [24]


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