Monthly Archives: April 2011

Could Mold be the Culprit?

Year-around allergies? Maybe its mold. Mold is a common allergen that is both indoors & out. Mold, also known as fungus, is a family of organisms that are found throughout nature. Mold grows in units called mycelium and reproduce through the formation of spores. Spores frequently become airborne, and like pollen, can cause allergic disease.

Mold grows abundantly outside, in rotting logs, moist leaves, and many damp areas. Inside the home, mold flourishes in areas that are warm, moist, and dimly lit. Watch out for mold growth in areas like damp basements, crawlspace, and closets, bathrooms (especially shower stalls & behind tile), places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, air-conditioners, humidifiers, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and old foam rubber pillows.

“Very often, people don’t really know what the problem is,” says John Martyny, PhD, an industrial hygienist with National Jewish Health Center in Denver. “They have an allergic reaction, lots of sinus drainage, lots of upper respiratory problems, and it doesn’t last for just a month or two. This goes on 12 months a year. It is not a minimal problem — it can really change your life.”

The trouble could come from a mold allergy, when mold spores trigger reactions like allergic rhinitis or asthma. Molds can also produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — the musty odor that irritates eyes, nose, and throat.

The most common symptoms associated with mold allergies are:

  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Eye irritation
  • Wheezing
  • Aggravation of asthma symptoms
  • Cold and flu like symptoms

It may be hard to get a mold allergy correctly diagnosed. “Very often, the root of the problem isn’t identified correctly,” Martyny says. “People have these symptoms, but they don’t realize they have a moisture and mold problem at home. If you get rid of the allergens — the mold — people get better, and they get better pretty fast.”

If you live in a warm moist climate, mold outside is nearly impossible to avoid. However, there are measures you can take to help eliminate mold inside your home.

  • Get your house tested for mold. A moisture meter test will help. Also, a dust sample from your carpet can show whether mold spores are in your home. Check with your state health department about mold testing. Or look in the yellow pages for environmental testing, Martyny suggests. 
  • Prevent outdoor molds from entering the home by keeping doors and windows closed and using air conditioning equipped with allergen-grade air filters.
  • Control indoor moisture with the use of dehumidifiers.
  • Utilize HEPA-filters on vacuums or as a stand-alone air filter.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation of moist areas.
  • Fix water leaks in bathrooms, kitchens and basements.
  • If your crawl space has mold, call an environmental service to get rid of it.
  • Check inside drywall for mold inside the wall. You can usually smell mold even if you can’t see it. Moldy drywall must be cut out and replaced. Moldy insulation also must be removed and replaced. 
  • If ceiling tiles or carpet have become moldy, they must be replaced. Throw out all wet, moldy tiles and carpeting. 
  • Clean (or replace) contaminated surfaces with a diluted chlorine bleach solution (one part household bleach in 9 parts water), while using proper protective gear (mask and goggles) and plenty of ventilation. Some people also recommend vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Non-toxic cleaners are also available. Allow areas to dry completely. 
  • Add insulation to windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors where there is potential for condensation on cold surfaces.
  • Limit indoor houseplants, and ensure those that are present are free of mold on leaves and in potting soil.

ImmuneTech offers an allergy test that includes mold as one of the allergens tested. Order yours today at www.immunetech.com. Use discount code: ILG for 15% off!

This article was compiled from the following sources:

http://www.achooallergy.com/control-mold-allergies.asp

http://allergies.about.com/od/specificallergens/a/moldallergy.htm

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/mold-allergies-reduce-symptoms?page=2

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Best & Worst Cities for Allergies!

There’s no place in America that’s totally safe from allergies. For eight years, the Asthmaand Allergy Foundation of America has released a list of the top Allergy Capitals in the United States. The list is based on each city’s pollen scores (airborne grass/tree/weed pollen and mold spores), as well as the number of allergy medications and allergy specialists used per patient.

Where are the Alergies?

Where Are The Allergies?

Conditions in a single city can change from year to year, says Andy Nish, MD, a Gainesville, Ga., allergist. One year, the pollen counts may be continually high and another year low. Mold counts can change depending on the weather.

Most of the worst places for allergies are warm and humid places. “Don’t pack up and move, because there are just different possible allergies somewhere else,” Angel Waldron, a communications rep with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation said. “The best thing you can do is find out exactly what you’re allergic to and then develop a good management plan.”

2011 Worst cities for allergies with scores:

  • Knoxville, TN (100)
  • Louisville, KY (94.25)
  • Charlotte, NC (92.24)
  • Jackson, MI (91.64)
  • Chattanooga, TN (89.28)
  • Birmingham, AL (87.17)
  • Dayton, OH (89.14)
  • Richmond, VA (88.93)
  • McAllen, TX (88.78)
  • Madison, WI (87.50)

While no place is allergen-free, there are places with low scores.

Best cities for allergies:

  • Boston, MA
  • Stockton, CA
  • Ogden, UT
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Greenville, SC
  • San Diego, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Albany, NY
  • Portland, OR

Here’s a little closer look at some factors that can affect whether your allergy symptoms are better or worse, wherever you live.

Allergy Factor #1 – City Size

Larger urban areas may be worse for your allergies than less populated cities, says Jeff Demain, MD, a board-certified allergist and immunologist in Anchorage, Alaska and an associate clinical professor of pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle.

”Larger urban areas are known to have higher pollution levels,” he says. And experts have long suspected a link between air pollution and allergies. The common pollutants — ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide — probably act more as irritants than anything, aggravating your existing allergies, and worsening your symptoms.

Allergy Factor #2 – Climate

Outdoor allergies affected by climate changes include pollen and mold allergies, as well as allergic asthma. Cold temperatures help decrease pollen in the air. However, cold temperatures are an asthma trigger and worsen rashes related to allergies such as hives and eczema. Pollen and mold spores thrive in warm weather climates.

Winds stir up mold and pollen spores, spreading them throughout the air. Rain increases outdoor mold production, although, heavy rain helps prevent the spread of pollen.

Allergy Factor #3 – Pollen Count

Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are powerful triggers for allergies. So areas of high pollen will naturally be more problematic. But, pollen counts vary a lot, says Demain. ”Dry sunny days following a rain will have the highest levels,” he says. Pollen counts can vary year-to-year.

Allergy Factor #4 – Geography

Living in a city by the water may be good for your allergies, Demain says, as the wind is likely to blow away potential allergens and irritants. Although, pollen can travel in the air a long time — up to 20 minutes or 200 miles, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

Allergy Factor #5 – Access to Medical Care

”If you move where there are not too many allergists” that too can affect care, says Derek Johnson, MD, an allergist in Fairfax, Va. If it’s difficult to get allergy care, chances are your management won’t be ideal.

The top recommendation for managing allergies wherever you live is to know your triggers. This is the first step in managing rather than suffering from allergies. For an easy-to-use, laboratory test you can do at home, visit www.immunetech.com and order your test today. For a 15% discount, use code ILG at checkout.

Reproduced from the Huffington Post, WebMD, and LiveStrong.