How To Live With an Allergy to Mildew

An allergy to mildew or mold produces symptoms similar to hay fever; consequently the itchy eyes, runny nose (rhinitis), dermatitis, and facial swelling that many people live with are often the result of an allergy to mildew or mold in their home, workplace, school, or outdoors.

Mildew and other molds are part of the fungi family; fungi release reproductive spores into the air. Inhaling these spores causes the allergic reactions. In general, reactions to an allergy to mildew or mold are mild, transitory responses. However, they can be life-threatening if a severe asthmatic attack is triggered, which results in anaphylactic shock.

Probably the most annoying thing about an allergy to mildew or mold is that, unlike hay fever, it is not seasonal and sufferers may be more affected in winter months, when more time is spent indoors. Although molds and mildew do grow outdoors, they are more of a problem indoors where they both grow in many of the same warm, moist environments found in the home, work place, school, and so on.

For a person to cope with an allergy to mildew or mold, she should pursue two courses of action to minimizing exposure. The first is to remove the source; the second is to prevent its return.

Common household bleach is one of the least expensive mildew removers. The mildew should be treated with a three-to-one water to bleach solution. Place a drop cloth over areas or objects where you do not want to leave bleach spots. Then, wearing rubber gloves and goggles, spray or douse the solution onto affected areas.  Use a scrub brush, tooth brush, or stiff pad to work the solution in. Wait several minutes, and then wipe down with a damp cloth. The process should probably be repeated as necessary. As a final resort, use a professional cleaning service specializing in mildew and mold removal.

To help prevent future exposure and allergic response to mildew or mold -- particularly in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms -- install exhaust fans to improve ventilation. In basements, use a dehumidifier or a sump pump if flooding is a problem. If possible, install central air conditioning with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter attachment to remove spores.

Finally, individuals with an allergy to mildew who also have a history of anaphylaxis should carry an auto-inject able epinephrine device (EpiPen®) with them at all times.  


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