Mold: The Hidden Allergy Problem
Going outside at this time of year can make kids sneeze or wheeze, but as one mom learned, what's inside your home might be causing the symptoms more than what is outside.
Up to 10 percent of the general population, including children, are allergic to or sensitive to mold, according to a 2015 study in Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research. Inhaling spores—the invisible airborne seeds of mold—can cause sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, and coughing. "
Unfortunately, doctors are finding that mold allergy is more than just hereditary. A study at the University of Cincinnati revealed that babies exposed to high levels of certain household molds have an increased chance of developing multiple allergies later in life.
Other research has found that children who live in a home with visible mold and a history of water damage, contributing to Sick Building Syndrome, have as much as double the rate of asthma—even if their parents don't suffer from the disease.
Dr. Sponaugle commonly diagnosed patients suffering from Mold Toxicity due to water-damaged builds with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Make sure to familiarize yourself with CIRS symptoms as well.
Asthma and mold are a hazardous combination. Most kids with asthma are allergic to mold and tend to react more severely to molds than to other triggers.
Mold Allergy Symptoms in Children
You may brush off your child's sniffles at this time of year as a bit of hay fever, but pay attention to whether he reacts in specific locations, like the basement or outside after you've mowed, and also if his symptoms persist beyond spring pollen season (generally March to June).
If your pediatrician thinks mold may be the culprit, she'll probably refer you to an allergist for testing. The allergist will lightly prick your child's skin with a needle containing common allergens and watch for a hive-like reaction.
You may have heard news reports about "toxic" molds like Stachybotrys chartarum, which has been blamed for everything from runny noses to potentially fatal pulmonary hemorrhage during the past decade.
A few molds do produce chemical toxins called mycotoxins, but you'd need to swallow them to get sick. "For inhaled mold to pose a serious health risk from mycotoxins, you would have to be in a very, very heavily contaminated building," says Dr. Stuart Abramson.
But the CDC is still urging caution. According to its comprehensive study, any mold can cause symptoms if you're exposed to large quantities of it for long periods, even if it's not considered to be "toxic." Children and adults who suffer from mold allergies or lung diseases are the most vulnerable.
Review the symptoms of mold allergies and study the symptoms of exposure to toxic black mold: