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Mold allergy

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Related Terms
  • Allergen, allergic, allergic asthma, allergic reaction, allergic response, allergy, allergy shots, anaphylactic shock, anaphylaxis, antibodies, antibody, antigen, asthma, bronchodilators, corticosteroid nasal sprays, corticosteroids, cromolyn sodium nasal sprays, fungi, fungus, immune, decongestant, dehumidifier, immune defense system, epinephrine, HEPA, high-efficiency particulate air, histamine, hypersensitive, hypersensitivity, hypersensitivity reaction, Ig, IgE, immune-mediated, immune response, immune system, immunoglobulin, immunoglobulin E, immunotherapy, inflammation, inflammatory response, nasal sprays, oil gland, parasite, parasitic, RAST®, sensitization, sensitized, skin test.

Background
  • An allergy, or hypersensitivity reaction, occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to a substance that is normally harmless (allergen), such as mold, pollen, animal dander or dust mites. The white blood cells of an allergic individual produce an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which attaches to the allergen. This triggers the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals that cause allergic symptoms, such as runny nose, watery eyes and hives.
  • Molds are parasitic or saprophytic microscopic fungi that have spores that float in the air like pollen. While there are thousands of different molds, only a few dozen species cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. Fungi known by scientific names including Alternaria, Cladosporium (Hormodendrum), Aspergillus, Penicillium, Helmin thosporium, Epicoccum, Fusarium, Mucor, Rhizopus and Aureobasidium (Pullularia) are the most common molds that cause allergic reactions. An allergic reaction occurs after a sensitive person inhales mold spores that are airborne.
  • While mold can grow almost anywhere, it is usually found in warm, damp areas, such as the basement or bathroom, as well as outside in the grass, in leaf piles, hay or mulch. Each species of mold thrives in a particular type of environment. Therefore, most mold allergies are not seasonal because different molds grow in different types of weather, and some can live indoors, outdoors or both.
  • Molds can reproduce sexually or asexually. During asexual reproduction, one parent produces genetically identical offspring. During sexual reproduction, genetic material from two parents is combined to produce offspring. Although molds grow on dead organic matter, they can only be seen with the naked eye when mold colonies (groups of many molds) are present.
  • In early 1970, an increased number of mold-related health issues were reported. Researchers attribute the increase to energy-saving insulation that was used in homes in response to the national energy crisis. The energy-saving insulation unexpectedly caused a dramatic increase in humidity inside those buildings, which led to excessive mold growth.
  • The exact incidence of mold allergies worldwide remains unknown. However, mold exposure in schoolchildren has become a major health concern of parents in recent years. Moisture-damaged repairs of buildings and close living quarters in inner cities appear to have contributed to an increase in respiratory allergy symptoms related to mold in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 80% of young children who live in the southern United States and have indoor allergies are allergic to mold spores and/or dust mites.
  • Allergy treatments depend on the severity of symptoms. Minimizing exposure to mold by properly ventilating damp areas in the home, regularly changing air conditioning and furnace filters and closing windows at night, may help prevent or reduce allergy symptoms. Commonly used allergy medications include antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants, leukotriene inhibitors and allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots). Patients who have allergic asthma that is triggered by mold may benefit from inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators.

Author information
  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Asthma and Allergic Foundation of America. Mold and Mildew. . Accessed April 14, 2009.
  2. Barnes C, Tuck, J, Simon S, Pacheco F, Hu F, Portnoy J. Allergenic materials in the house dust of allergy clinic patients. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2001 May;86(5):517-23.
  3. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. . Copyright © 2009. Accessed April 14, 2009.
  4. Santilli J, Rockwell W. Fungal contamination of elementary schools: a new environmental hazard. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003 Feb;90(2):203-8.
  5. The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center. Allergy Overview. . Accessed April 14, 2009.

Causes
  • Typically, an allergic response is not triggered the first time the body encounters the allergen. In fact, some people can be repeatedly exposed to the allergen before an allergy develops. The first time or several times after the body is exposed to an allergen, the immune system becomes sensitized. During this process, the body's white blood cells develop immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to the mold allergens. Once sensitized, the antibodies quickly detect and bind to the mold allergens in the body. These antibodies also trigger the release of chemicals (like histamine) that cause allergic symptoms like runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing, as well as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a systemic allergic reaction, which means that many parts of the body are affected. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can vary from mild to severe and may be potentially life threatening. The most dangerous symptoms are low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, shock and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal.
  • In some people, symptoms of mold allergy may be triggered or worsened after eating certain foods, such as cheese processed with fungi. While mold is present year round, mold spores peak during hot, humid weather.

Symptoms
  • Common symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, cough, postnasal drip, watery eyes, skin rash, sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nose) and itchy eyes, nose and throat. Rhinoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the nose and eyes in response to an allergen) may also occur.
  • Some individuals suffer from allergic asthma, which causes the airways to become inflamed, in response to mold exposure. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Diagnosis
  • Skin test: The standard diagnostic test for mold allergies is a skin test. During the test, the skin is exposed to different allergy-causing substances, including mold. The skin is then observed for an allergic reaction. If an allergen triggers an allergic reaction to a test, the patient will develop reddening, swelling or a raised, itchy red wheal (bump) that looks similar to a mosquito bite. The healthcare provider will measure the size of the wheal and record the results. The larger the wheal, the more severe the allergy. A skin test is typically conducted in a healthcare provider's office. Skin tests cause minimal, if any, discomfort. The needles used barely penetrate the skin's surface and will not cause bleeding.
  • Allergen-specific immunoglobulin (IgE) test: An allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) test, commonly referred to as radioallergosorbent test (RAST®), may also be used to determine whether the patient is allergic to mold. However, this test is less accurate than a skin test. It is usually performed in patients who have coexisting severe skin diseases (like eczema or psoriasis) that make it difficult to interpret a skin test.
  • The in vitro test is conducted outside of the body in a laboratory setting. During the procedure, a sample of blood is taken from the patient. The blood is then sent to a laboratory that performs specific IgE blood tests. The mold allergen is bound to an allergosorbent (paper disk). Then the patient's blood is added. If the blood contains antibodies (immunoglobulins that detect and bind to antigens) to the mold antigens, the blood will bind to the allergen on the disc. A radiolabelled ANTI-IgE antibody is then added to the disc to measure the level of immunoglobulin E present in the blood. The higher the radioactivity, the higher the level of IgE in the blood and the more severe the allergy.
  • A qualified healthcare provider will interpret the results of the test. In general, the sensitivity of these tests range from 50-90%, with the average being about 70-75%. The patient will receive test results in about 7-14 days.

Treatment
  • General: Allergy treatments depend on the severity of symptoms. Commonly used allergy medications include antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants, leukotriene inhibitors and allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots). Patients who have allergic asthma that is caused by mold may benefit from inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators. Patients should tell their healthcare providers if they are taking any drugs (prescription or over-the-counter), herbs or supplements.
  • Short-acting antihistamines: Short-acting antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) have been used to relieve mild to moderate allergy symptoms. Most short-acting antihistamines are available over-the-counter. Use cautiously, especially in children because these medications often cause drowsiness, and they have shown to temporarily slow learning in children (even in the absence of drowsiness). However, loratadine (Claritin®), another over-the-counter medication, does not cause drowsiness or affect learning in children.
  • Longer-acting antihistamines: Longer-acting antihistamines like fexofenadine (Allegra®) or cetirizine (Zyrtec®) are available by prescription for mild to moderate allergy symptoms. They cause less drowsiness than short-acting antihistamines, and they are equally effective. Although these medications usually do not interfere with learning, use cautiously in children.
  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays: Nasal corticosteroid sprays can effectively relieve allergy symptoms in patients who are not responding to antihistamines. Commonly prescribed corticosteroid sprays include fluticasone (Flonase®), mometasone (Nasonex®) and triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ®).
  • Decongestants: Decongestants like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed® Nasal Decongestant) may help relieve symptoms such as nasal congestion (stuffy nose). These drugs shrink the tissues and blood vessels in the eyes and nose that swell in response to contact with an allergen. Nasal decongestant sprays like oxymetazoline (Afrin®) should not be used more than twice daily for three consecutive days because rebound nasal congestion may result. Decongestants in pill form do not cause this effect.
  • Cromolyn sodium: Cromolyn sodium is available as a nasal spray (Nasalcrom®) for treating allergy symptoms. Eye drop versions of cromolyn sodium are available for itchy, bloodshot eyes.
  • Allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots): Allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is often used to treat patients who suffer from severe allergies, or for those who experience allergy symptoms for more than three months a year. Allergen immunotherapy involves injecting increasing amounts of a diluted allergen into a patient over several months.
  • There are two phases of immunotherapy - the build-up phase and the maintenance phase. During the build-up phase, allergy shots are injected into the upper arm once or twice a week for several months (typically three to six months). The dose is gradually increased until the maintenance dose is reached. The maintenance phase begins once the effective therapeutic dose is reached. This dose is different for each patient because it depends on the patient's level of allergen sensitivity and their response to immunotherapy during the build-up phase. Once the maintenance dose is reached, the patient will continue therapy every two to four weeks for two to five years or more.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids: Patients who suffer from allergic asthma and experience symptoms more than twice a week may be treated with inhaled corticosteroids like fluticasone (Flovent®), beclomethasone (Qvar®), budesonide (Pulmicort Turbuhaler®) or mometasone (Asmanex®). Inhaled corticosteroids may also be combined with long-acting inhaled bronchodilators like fluticasone/salmeterol (Advair®).
  • Bronchodilators: Bronchodilators are a quick-acting medication that is used to stop symptoms of an asthma attack. The most commonly used short-acting beta-2 agonist for asthma is albuterol (Proventil HFA® or Ventolin HFA®).

Integrative therapies
  • Good scientific evidence:
  • Bromelain: Bromelain has been studied in various clinical studies for sinusitis with mixed results. Further research is necessary. Avoid if allergic to bromelain, pineapple, honeybee, venom, latex, birch pollen, carrots, celery, fennel, cypress pollen, grass pollen, papain, rye flour, wheat flour, or members of the Bromeliaceaefamily. Use cautiously with history of bleeding disorder, stomach ulcers, heart disease, liver or kidney disease. Use caution before dental or surgical procedures or while driving or operating machinery. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Butterbur: Good scientific evidence suggests that butterbur may be effective for allergic rhinitis prevention in susceptible individuals. Comparisons of butterbur to prescription drugs, such as fexofenadine (Allegra®) and cetirizine (Zyrtec®), have reported similar efficacy. Additional studies are warranted before a firm conclusion can be made.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to Petasites hybridus or other plants from the Asteraceae/Compositae family (such as ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chrysanthemums). Raw, unprocessed butterbur plant should not be eaten due to the risk of liver or kidney damage or cancer. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Nasal irrigation: There is good evidence from clinical studies to recommend the use of nasal irrigation in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. One study demonstrated that reflexology massage may be equally effective; however, the advantage of irrigation (i.e. inexpensive, performed at home, minimal adverse side effects) makes the technique beneficial. Methodological and statistical reporting are lacking in some of these trials. A well-conducted, randomized controlled trial, fully reporting data would make the case for allergic rhinitis stronger.
  • Early research suggests that nasal irrigation may help treat chronic sinusitis, with improvements in sinus-related quality of life, decreases in symptoms, and decreases in medication use. Further study is needed before a conclusion can be made.
  • Nasal irrigation is generally well tolerated. Use cautiously with history of frequent nosebleeds. If the irrigation liquid is hot, the nose may become irritated.
  • Probiotics: Use of probiotic Enterococcus faecalis bacteria in hypertrophic sinusitis (sinus inflammation) may reduce frequency of relapses and the need for antibiotic therapy. Further research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be made. Probiotics are generally considered safe and well tolerated. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to probiotics. Use cautiously if lactose intolerant.
  • Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence:
  • Acupuncture: There is currently insufficient available evidence on which to base recommendations for acupuncture in non-allergic rhinitis. However, studies suggest that it may offer possible benefits. Additionally, more studies are needed of stronger design to determine whether or not acupuncture offers benefit in sinusitis.
  • Acupuncture should be avoided in patients with heart disease, pulmonary disease, infections, bleeding disorders, medical conditions of unknown origin, or neurological disorders. Pregnant women, the elderly, diabetics, people with a history of seizures, and those receiving radiation therapy and/or taking drugs increasing bleeding risks should also avoid acupuncture.
  • Aromatherapy: Despite widespread use in over-the-counter agents and vapors, there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend use of eucalyptus oil as a decongestant-expectorant (by mouth or inhaled form). Essential oils should be administered in a carrier oil to avoid toxicity. Avoid with a history of allergic dermatitis. Use cautiously if driving/operating heavy machinery. Avoid consuming essential oils. Avoid direct contact of undiluted oils with mucous membranes. Use cautiously if pregnant.
  • Black seed: Studies in patients with allergies found that black seed decreased subjective measures of severity of allergies. The effect of black seed for allergies is still not clear and further study is required before a conclusion can be made. Avoid with a known allergy/hypersensitivity to black seed, its constituents, black seed oil, or to members of the Ranunculaceae family. Allergic contact dermatitis has been reported after topical use of black seed or the oil from the seed.
  • Cat's claw: It has been suggested that cat's claw may help treat allergies and related respiratory diseases. However, there is currently limited scientific evidence to support this claim. More well-designed trials are needed to determine whether cat's claw is a beneficial treatment.
  • Avoid if allergic to cat's claw or Uncaria plants or plants in the Rubiaceae family, such as gardenia, coffee, or quinine. Avoid with history of conditions affecting the immune system (such as AIDS, HIV, some types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus). Use cautiously with bleeding disorders or with history of stroke, or if taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Stop use two weeks before surgery/dental/diagnostic procedures with bleeding risk, and do not use immediately after these procedures. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding. Cat's claw may be contaminated with other Uncaria species. Reports exist of the potentially toxic Texan-grown plant Acacia gregii being substituted for cat's claw.
  • Choline: Oral tricholine citrate (TRI) effectively relieved allergic rhinitis symptoms in limited available study. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made. Choline is generally regarded as safe and appears to be well tolerated. Avoid if allergic to choline, lecithin, or phosphatidylcholine.
  • Elder: Elder may offer benefits for bacterial sinusitis, such as reducing excessive mucus secretion. Herbal preparations containing elder may result in less swelling of mucus membranes, better drainage, milder headache, and decreased nasal congestion. Cyanide toxicity is possible. Avoid if allergic to elder or to plants related to honeysuckle. Some reports exist of allergies from contact with fresh elder stems. Use caution with diabetes, high blood pressure or urinary problems, or with drugs used for any of these conditions. Use caution with anti-inflammatories, diuretics ("water pills" for high blood pressure), or laxatives. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Ephedra: Preliminary study suggests that ephedrine nasal spray may help treat allergic rhinitis. Additional research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
  • Ephedra taken by mouth can cause serious side effects, including heart attack, seizure, and stroke. Therefore, ephedrine nasal sprays should only be used in the nose. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has collected thousands of reports of serious toxicity linked to ephedra (including over 100 deaths). Ephedra products are banned from dietary supplements because of serious health risks, including heart attack, heart damage, breathing difficulties, and fluid retention in the lungs. Avoid with history of high blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, heart attack, stroke, seizure, eating disorders, anxiety, prostate disease, mental illness, kidney disease, stomach ulcers, heart disease, eye disease, depression, diabetes, thyroid disease, or sleep problems. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Eucalyptus oil: There is currently insufficient available evidence to recommend either for or against eucalyptus oil as a decongestant-expectorant. Studies show that eucalyptus oil may be effective for treating upper respiratory tract infections. Avoid if allergic to eucalyptus oil or with a history of seizure, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms, intestinal disorders, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, or the blood condition known as acute intermittent porphyria. Use caution if driving or operating machinery. A strain of bacteria found on eucalyptus may cause infection. Toxicity has been reported with oral and inhaled use.
  • Honey: Currently, there is insufficient human evidence to recommend honey for the treatment of rhinoconjunctivitis. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to honey, pollen, celery or bees. Honey is generally considered safe in recommended doses. Avoid honey from the genus Rhododendron because it may cause a toxic reaction. Avoid in infants younger than 12 months of age. Use cautiously with antibiotics. Potentially harmful contaminants (like C. botulinum or grayanotoxins) can be found in some types of honey and should be used cautiously in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Horseradish: Several studies suggest that some horseradish constituents may offer antibiotic activity and may help treat sinusitis. Additional high-quality clinical studies are needed before a conclusion can be made. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), its constituents, or members of the Brassicaceae family. Large oral doses may provoke allergic reactions. Use cautiously with clotting disorders, hypotension (low blood pressure), thyroid disorders, kidney disorders and inflammation, gastrointestinal conditions, and ulcers. Use cautiously if taking anticoagulants or antiplatelets (blood thinning agents), antihypertensives (blood pressure-lowering agents), anti-inflammatory agents, or thyroid hormones. Use cautiously if undergoing treatment for cancer. Avoid medicinal amounts of horseradish if pregnant or breastfeeding; based on herbal textbooks and folkloric precedent, horseradish has been used to induce abortion.
  • Hypnotherapy, hypnosis: It has been suggested that hypnotherapy may be effective for allergies and may help treat hay fever. However, further research is necessary. Use cautiously with mental illnesses such as psychosis/schizophrenia, manic depression, multiple personality disorder, or dissociative disorders. Use cautiously with seizure disorders
  • Kiwi: Conclusive data on kiwi's therapeutic benefits for preventing lung conditions and other respiratory problems is currently lacking. Kiwi and other fruits high in vitamin C may benefit lung conditions in children, especially wheezing. More research is warranted before a recommendation can be made. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to kiwi, latex, birch pollen, banana, chestnut, fig, flour, melon, poppy seeds, rye grain, sesame seeds, and related substances. Kiwi is generally considered safe when taken in amounts naturally found in foods. Use cautiously with anti-platelet drugs like aspirin, cilostazol, or clopidogrel. Use cautiously with hormone therapies or serotonergic drugs. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding because clinical trials testing safety in supplemental doses are currently lacking. The amount found in foods appears to be safe in most people.
  • MSM: According to preliminary clinical study, MSM reduces symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). However, larger controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to MSM. Long-term effects of supplementation with MSM have not been examined. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Onion: Research shows that topical application of an alcoholic onion extract significantly reduced responses to allergies. Although intriguing, more research is needed in this area to establish the efficacy and dosing of topical onion extracts. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to onion (Allium cepa), its constituents, or members of the Lilaceae family. Use cautiously with hematologic (blood) disorders, diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and hypotension (low blood pressure). Use cautiously if taking anticoagulants or antiplatelets (blood thinners). Avoid medicinal doses if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Perilla: Preliminary evidence suggests some benefit of perilla extract for seasonal allergies. Further clinical trials are required before conclusions can be made. Avoid if allergic/hypersensitive to perilla or members of the Lamiaciae/Labiatae family. Use cautiously with cancer, low HDL-cholesterol, and immune disorders. Use cautiously if taking NSAIDS or barbiturates. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Probiotics: Only a few types and combinations of probiotics have been studied as a possible allergy treatment. They have been studied mostly in children, teenagers, and young adults. Further research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be made. Probiotics are generally considered safe and well tolerated. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to probiotics. Use cautiously if lactose intolerant.
  • Sorrel: Research suggests that an herbal combination preparation containing sorrel, Sinupret®, may have beneficial effects in improving symptoms of sinusitis when used with antibiotics. It is not clear if these same effects would be seen with sorrel alone or what dose may be safe and effective. For allergic rhinitis, there is not enough evidence to make a conclusion at this time. More research of sorrel alone is needed.
  • Avoid sorrel with a known allergy to sorrel or any of its constituents. Avoid large doses of sorrel because there have been reports of toxicity and death. Many tinctures contain high levels of alcohol and should be avoided when driving or operating heavy machinery. Sorrel formulations may cause nausea or vomiting when taken with the prescription drugs metronidazole (Flagyl®) or disulfiram (Antabuse®). Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Spirulina: Anti-inflammatory properties of spirulina may help improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis. However, further high-quality studies are needed to confirm these findings. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to spirulina or blue-green algae. Use cautiously with phenylketonuria (a genetic disorder of a liver enzyme that disrupts normal body functions), autoimmune diseases, bleeding disorders, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Use cautiously with products containing the blue-green algae species Anabaena spp., Aphanizomenon spp., and Microcystis spp.; in underweight patients or in those taking antiobesity agents or appetite suppressants; of if consuming a high-protein diet. Avoid in children or if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Stinging nettle: For many years, a freeze-dried preparation of Urtica dioica has been prescribed by physicians and sold over-the-counter for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Clinical trials demonstrating statistical significance over placebo and/or equivalence with other available treatments are needed to support the use of nettle in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to nettle, the Urticaceae family or any ingredient of nettle products. Use cautiously with diabetes, bleeding disorders, and/or low sodium levels in the blood. Use cautiously with diuretics and anti-inflammatory drugs. The elderly should also use nettle cautiously. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Thymus extract: Thymus extract may reduce allergy symptoms due to its potential immune stimulating effects. More clinical trials are required before recommendations can be made involving thymus extract for this use. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to thymus extracts. Use bovine thymus extract supplements cautiously due to potential for exposure to the virus that causes "mad cow disease." Avoid use with an organ transplant or other forms of allografts or xenografts. Avoid if receiving immunosuppressive therapy, with thymic tumors, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular disorder), untreated hypothyroidism, or if taking hormonal therapy. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding; thymic extract increases human sperm motility and progression.
  • Vitamin E: Although thought to aid in reducing the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis, vitamin E intake may not be effective. Current evidence is limited, however, and more studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to vitamin E. For short periods of time, vitamin E supplementation is generally considered safe at doses up to 1,000 milligrams per day. Avoid doses higher than 1,000 milligrams a day. Avoid with retinitis pigmentosa (loss of peripheral vision). Use cautiously with bleeding disorders. The recommended dose of vitamin E for pregnant women of any age is 15 milligrams; for breastfeeding women of any age, the recommended dose is 19 milligrams. Use beyond this level in pregnant women is not recommended.
  • Fair negative scientific evidence:
  • Grape seed: Grape seed has been used to treat immune system disorders due to its antioxidant effects. However, a well-designed human study of allergic rhinitis sufferers showed no improvement in allergy symptoms with administration of grape seed extract ingredients.
  • Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to grapes or other grape compounds. Use cautiously if taking blood thinners such as warfarin, aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or anti-platelet agents. Use cautiously with bleeding disorders or if taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Use cautiously with drugs processed using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. Use cautiously with blood pressure disorders or if taking ACE inhibitors. Avoid with disorders that increase the risk of bleeding or with active bleeding disorders (stomach ulcers, bleeding into the brain, etc.). Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Prevention
  • Eliminate sources of dampness in basements, such as leaky pipes. A dehumidifier may also help remove moisture from the air in damp areas.
  • Consider installing central air conditioning with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter attachment. The HEPA filter can trap mold spores from outdoor air, preventing them from circulating in the air inside.
  • Change furnace and air conditioning filters regularly.
  • Areas of the house that are damp, such as the bathroom, basement or kitchen should be properly ventilated. Opening windows or installing an exhaust fan may help increase ventilation inside the home.
  • Clean the bathroom and basement wall surfaces regularly to kill and prevent mold growth.
  • Sleep with the windows closed.
  • Regularly clean shower curtains in the bathroom to prevent mold from growing.
  • Do not go outdoors immediately after a rainstorm or during foggy or damp weather.
  • Mold is often found in soiled upholstery and garbage containers. Therefore, individuals may reduce indoor exposure to mold by regularly cleaning soiled fabrics and emptying the trash.

Complications
  • Serious allergic reactions to molds are rare. However, individuals who are exposed to high levels of mold and have weakened immune systems (like HIV patients) have the highest risk of developing a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a rapid allergic reaction that involves the whole body. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical treatment, as well as follow-up care with a specialized type of doctor called an allergist or immunologist. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can vary from mild to severe and may be potentially life threatening. The most dangerous symptoms are low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, shock and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal. Epinephrine is a medication used to treat anaphylaxis. Administering the epinephrine as soon as possible improves the chances of survival and a quick recovery. Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis should carry an autoinjectable epinephrine device (EpiPen®) with them at all times. If symptoms of anaphylaxis appear after exposure to an allergen or medication, the patient uses the device to inject the epinephrine into his/her thigh. A trained family member or friend may help the patient administer the epinephrine, if necessary.
  • Researchers have also found that asthmatics who are allergic to mold have an increased risk of experiencing a life-threatening asthma attack. These patients should consult their healthcare providers to determine an appropriate emergency treatment plan if an asthma attack occurs.

Risk factors
  • Genetic predisposition: Individuals are more likely to be allergic to mold if any type of allergies run in the family.
  • Exposure: Individuals who are exposed to mold regularly have an increased risk of developing mold allergies. Certain jobs, such as farming, logging, baking, millwork, carpentry, winemaking and greenhouse work involve routine exposure to molds that may trigger allergic reactions.
  • Living in areas of high humidity: Since mold thrives in humid (damp) and warm areas, such as the basement or bathroom, individuals exposed to high levels of household mold may develop allergies.
  • New home: New houses tend to have airtight windows and doors to promote energy efficiency. Tight window and doors seals may also trap moisture inside, preventing adequate ventilation, which is an ideal environment for mold spores to grow.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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