Could mould be causing your allergies?

Hayfever sufferer

Winter’s coming, which means crisp air, warm clothes and comfort food. But it also brings with it a rather unwelcome guest – mould. So why does mould increase this time of year and what effect could it be having on your health and allergies?

 

Mould explained …

Mould is a type of fungus that thrives in cold, damp environments, which is why it can increase by two-to-three-fold during the colder, wetter months of the year.

Mould reproduces by releasing tiny particles called spores into the air. These spores act similarly to seeds – when they settle on living matter they grow into new mould clusters and the cycle continues. It doesn’t take long for mould to form – given the right conditions some moulds can begin to reproduce in as little as 12 hours!

Some of the most common allergy-causing moulds include:

  • Alternaria – often found outdoors, as well as damp places indoors like showers or under sinks, and other water damaged areas. It spreads easily from one place in the home to the other, and can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks
  • Aspergillus – usually found indoors, and can cause allergic reactions, respiratory infections and condition call hypersensitivity pneumonitis (an allergic inflammation of the alveoli within the lung)
  • Cladosporium – commonly found growing in homes on fabrics like carpets, and wood surfaces like cabinets and floorboards.

 

Mould and your health

The number of mould spores floating around in the air far outnumbers other common airborne allergens like pollen. When inhaled, these tiny spores may spark health problems in people with sensitivities – particularly in people with asthma, allergies, chronic lung conditions and other respiratory disorders. Breathing in spores can even trigger reactions if the spores are dead!

 

Watch out for the signs

Exposure to mould can present with a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • coughing and wheezing
  • rhinitis (irritation or inflammation inside the nose)
  • sinus congestion (chronic cases may be caused by sensitivities to naturally occurring fungal species living in the sinus passages)
  • red and itchy skin
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • mood changes
  • joint pain and weakness.

Mould has also been linked to more serious health conditions, including some cancers, multiple sclerosis (MS) and chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS).

 

What to do

Seek it out

You’ll often find mould in poorly ventilated or poorly heated areas. Watch out for:

  • Indoor areas – heating and cooling systems, enclosed spaces (like attics and basements), carpets and upholstered furniture, clothes dryers, vaporisers, and fridges.
  • Outdoor areas – particularly in heavy vegetation areas: climbing plants, fallen leaves, grass clippings, soil, compost, sand, bark and other mulches.
  • Some foods – including dried fruits, cured meats, aged cheeses, condiments, breads and cereals. For a full list of food sources, speak with your health practitioner.
  • Mould on the body – the human body is also an ideal environment for growing mould, due to our warm body temperature and porous skin.

Control it

The key to reducing mould in and around the home is fairly straightforward: reduce moisture. You can do this through:

  • Ventilation – open windows and doors, and/or install exhaust fans
  • Heating – try to keep humidity levels low and dry. Aim for a humidity level that falls below 60 per cent and try to maintain a slightly warm, constant temperature throughout your house, particularly in wet areas like the bathroom
  • Insulation – insulate hot and cold surfaces to help manage temperature and moisture
  • Mould removal – this can be done professionally or on your own (using fermented vinegar solution, tea tree oil or commercial products)
  • General maintenance – reducing moisture is the key to eradicating mould, so leaky plumbing, broken tiles, broken seals, etc. should all be fixed.

People who are sensitive to mould should also take care to prevent fungal growth on their skin. After showering or swimming, ensure that your body (especially sweat gland–bearing areas like your armpits and groin) is completely dry, and wear loose fitting clothing so that your skin can breathe. People with sensitivities might also adopt a ‘low-mould’ diet by avoiding foods that are more likely to contain mould, such as leftovers, aged cheeses and cured meats.

 

Explore a natural solution to address mould reactions

At Health & Wellness Australia (HWA), we use a technique called muscle testing (or kinesiology) to help identify your sensitivities to types of moulds. Following testing, you can work with your practitioner to address these sensitivities using a natural allergy treatment called Positive Association Technique (PAT).

PAT is a non-invasive holistic therapy, which:

  • draws on acupressure and kinesiology techniques
  • aims to re-train your body
  • may reduce your body’s reactions to mould, which may be causing or exacerbating your symptoms.

The types of moulds commonly addressed in a PAT treatment are moulds that are known allergy triggers, such as alternaria, aspergillus and cladosporium. Some cases can be complex, so our naturopaths may also recommend supplements, herbs and lifestyle advice to help you achieve the best long-term results.

 

This blog is intended as general information only. PAT cannot cure mould allergies – it is intended to decrease reactions and help manage symptoms. It is not intended to raise unrealistic expectations. If symptoms persist, consult your GP.

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