More and more are suffering from allergies. It affects about 20% of the general population. Airborne allergens can travel easily for miles and affect an unsuspecting culprit. We need to understand the nature of the disease to help prevent and treat it.
Allergic rhinitis, also called nasal allergies, pollinosis, or hay fever occurs when an allergen comes into contact with the nasal membranes. Ragweed allergies or hay fever usually flares up during the change of season from summer to fall, usually in mid-August and lasts until the first frost Each individual has their own tendency to develop allergies as it is passed down through one’s genes. An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a substance that is normally harmless to most people. But sometimes, the body’s immune system treats the allergen as an invader and tries to protect the body by releasing various chemicals. This hypersensitivity of our immune system results in allergy symptoms that could be quite uncomfortable. The symptoms may range from sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat, to headache, smell impairment, and wheezing.
Mold allergies occur when an allergic individual develops a hypersensitivity reaction to mold spores. Mold spores are microscopic particles that get released from molds and become airborne. Molds are found in damp areas, both in indoor or outdoor areas. Mold spores can be released from the soil when disturbed by mowing the grass, raking the leaves or even after a gentle rain shower. Mold problems can occur indoors when there are water or humidity problems within a building. Mold spores can become dispersed indoors even with the slightest disturbance. The best way to avoid outdoor mold exposure is to stay indoors when activities that disturb the soil occurs such as mowing, raking or after a slight shower. Indoor mold problems can be mitigated by controlling water or humidity problems, and using fungicidal agents such as bleach. These environmental control measures are important to prevent exposure and result in decreased allergy symptoms. It would be best to be evaluated by an allergist to get a better understanding of one’s allergies, and get advice on the appropriate environmental control measures.