Each day we inhale more than two tablespoons of solid particles into our nose and lungs. Our bodies are normally capable of filtering out most of these irritants. For many unlucky people the body becomes a battleground between a foreign particulate and the immune system.
What is an allergic reaction?
Our immune system is a complex defence mechanism made up of various cells, tissues, glands, and organs. Under normal circumstances we can rely on this system to effectively defeat foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. In some cases however, the immune system’s response can cause uncomfortable side effects that we identify as an allergic reaction.
Exposure to an allergen causes the formation of antibodies which the body will use to combat subsequent exposures. When this antibody is again activated, it stimulates the release of chemicals such as histamine, prostaglandins, and leukotrines. These substances create inflammation which is a normal indication that our immune system is functioning. Sometimes the immune system begins to respond with greater zeal toward otherwise harmless substances such as mold or pollen. The body's own tissues may be attacked as a consequence.
Mold in Our Environment
Molds are a group of microscopic living organisms that have the ability to live almost anywhere. Although they grow best at room temperature, they can remain dormant in subfreezing conditions and continue to grow once thawed. Molds require abundant moisture for proper growth and spore distribution (spores generate offspring). When moisture is absent, spores may still be present waiting for the proper conditions to develop.
There is almost no environment devoid of molds. It can live on food, plants, soil, wood, leather, paint, paper, wallpaper paste, hay, animal waste, and many other materials. Spores are present in the air indoors and out and can be carried by rain and wind for up to 20 miles. Molds predominate outside in summer and fall, but may live year-round indoors if given the proper conditions.
Sensitivity to Molds
As explained earlier, our bodies sometimes develop an allergy to a foreign object it would otherwise find benign. Some people develop a sensitivity to certain molds and their body’s immune system may over-respond with each exposure. Additionally, a characteristic of mold is to produce an antibiotic which kills other competing organisms in the area. This capability makes possible damage to tissue cells, especially nerve cells, when we are exposed to mold. Some molds also produce poisons called mycotoxins under certain conditions. These poisons can be potentially toxic to our nervous system.
For the mold sensitive person, exposure will usually bring on immediate symptoms. Inhalation may cause respiratory problems or dermatitis. Other complaints include urticaria, fluid behind the eardrum, gastrointestinal distress, cerebral symptoms, depression, and more. Colonization on or within the body is also a concern. Dermatitis may be triggered by growth on the skin; chronic sinus problems may indicate mold mold in the lungs.
Preventing, eliminating, and avoiding mold is key to reducing symptoms. Avoid old dust that you would find in attics or old houses. This is usually full of spores that may spread through the house. Anything that smells musty is usually indicates mold growth. This includes anything from pillows to entire houses. It is particularly important to avoid any dampness and maintain proper circulation to avoid the growth of mold.
The first thing to do around the house is to address the condition of the rooms you spend the most time in - likely the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen.