The Truth About Fungal Allergies
Do you notice your allergies seem to be trigged by exposure to mold spores and other types of fungi? If so, you certainly aren't alone. Fungal allergies are particularly common, and people with a mold or other fungal allergy are also at increased risk to experience allergic asthma, according to the latest research findings.
Beware of a Fungal Allergy
When outdoor activities leave you coughing and sneezing on days when the mold spore count is high, you'll feel tempted to hibernate inside. Just keep in mind that indoor mold and fungi can also be a trigger, too, leaving you nowhere safe to hide.
Further complicating the situation is the fact is that the mold and fungi connection to allergies isn't completely clear. In fact, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who studied the mechanisms of fungal allergy reactions couldn't prove a direct correlation between indoor or outdoor exposure to fungi and the onset of specific allergic rhinitis symptoms. Their findings, which were included in The Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society in May of 2010, mean that even though you may feel the link all too well in your eyes, nose, and chest, it may be hard for the experts to clearly identify and address.
Difficult to Classify
Part of the problem in tracking the relationship between different types of fungi and the allergic reactions they cause is that the extracts can vary quite a bit, making them difficult to study or predict.
What is known, though, is that as many as 150 separate fungal allergies do exist, and in addition to anecdotal evidence of their link with general allergic symptoms, they also have a strong link to allergic asthma, with some estimates showing that as many as 80 percent of asthmatics with allergies have a mold sensitivity. Other illnesses can also be related to a fungal allergy, including allergic sinusitis, hypersensitivity pneumonia and atopic dermatitis.
Scientists in the U.K. conducted the Fungal Asthma Sensitization Trail (FAST) study and had participants undergo a 32-week course of fungal sensitization therapy to see if this has any impact on symptoms. Their findings, which were published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology in 2008, revealed that following completion of the therapy, more than half of the participants did have significantly marked improvements in their allergy and asthma conditions.
What this Means for You
If you believe that mold or a fungus allergy may be making you sick, here are some simple steps you can take to help keep your reaction in check:
- Educate yourself about sources of mold and other fungi and notice what types seem to set your symptoms off.
- Understand that when temperatures rise in the spring and summer, often so does the mold count. Therefore, stay indoors on warm, windy days whenever you can so mold spores don't get in your face and hair.
- Follow the National Allergy Bureau (NAB) local mold levels available on the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology's website so you'll know what to expect each day.
- Close your windows and run your air conditioner when the levels are high or you feel your symptoms flare.
- Avoid activities that could stir up mold in the soil and plants, such as mowing the lawn and raking leaves. If you must do any yard work, at least wear a mask to protect your nose and mouth and avoid breathing in any mold spores in the air.
Also talk to your allergist about different treatment methods and see what he recommends. Antihistamines may help control mild symptoms, but if your fungal allergy reactions are more severe, you may want to find out if you're a good candidate for immunotherapy to desensitize your body to this trigger.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society (ATS)
International Archives of Allergy and Immunology
US National Library of Medicine
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