Are your eyes watering? Maybe you are sneezing? Perhaps you are wheezing a little. No, not everything is about the COVID-19 virus. Allergies are common, and you might be suffering from an allergy.
The CDC says that allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. There are big dollar signs related to allergies, with an annual cost of over $18 billion.
Seasonal and mold allergies can appear with very similar symptoms but are different types of allergies. What are the differences between seasonal allergies and mold allergies? You probably are one of many people who have allergies, whether it be seasonal or other types like mold, food, drug, and animal allergies, to name a few.
Some of the symptoms of seasonal allergies and other types — for example, mold allergies — are very similar, and it can be hard to distinguish between the two.
To get relief from their symptoms, you must first identify which type of allergies you are suffering from. Doctors may order blood tests or skin prick tests in addition to a physical examination to identify or exclude other medical problems to make sure you have an allergy instead of some other medical condition.
Sources of Symptoms
The most significant difference between seasonal and mold allergies comes down to their triggers. The most common source of seasonal allergies is pollen, whereas mold allergies stem from the spores that fungi produce.
Timing and Severity of Symptoms
It can be hard to distinguish between seasonal allergies and mold allergies, especially during the changing seasons. From late summer to fall, both seasonal and mold allergies can flare up because the sources of their symptoms are both prevalent. Seasonal allergies are also common in the spring and summer when people tend to spend more time outdoors.
Periods of high humidity can trigger mold allergies as well. Mold allergies can even cause diseases and asthma symptoms in some people. However, seasonal allergies are usually not as severe; they lead to nothing more than sneezing or runny nose in most people.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Typically, an effective way to find relief from seasonal allergies is to take a break indoors. Because outdoor plant life produces so much pollen, well-circulated indoor air can provide some relief. Seasonal allergies typically occur between late February and early September.
However, if you're still having allergy symptoms indoors despite the cleaner air, this could signify a mold allergy. Mold allergies can occur year ground, both indoors and outdoors, and many homes have some level of airborne mold spores.
Mold allergies usually affect people when they're inside their homes and have their windows shut. Bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and laundry rooms are typical environments for mold allergies to act up.
There are several ways to help prevent both seasonal and mold allergies so you can feel better and breathe easier.
Seasonal Allergy Prevention
- Using the air conditioning in your home and car.
- Clean your carpet and upholstery often.
- Try to stay inside on dry, windy days and when pollen counts are high.
- Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
Mold Allergy Prevention
- Use a dehumidifier in damp areas of your home. Set it at 50% humidity.
- Check under your sinks regularly for leaks. Sitting water causes mold to grow quickly.
- Keep your bathroom clean. Clean the shower, windowsills, and shower curtains with bleach or disinfectant at least once a month.
- Keep yard debris to a minimum. Dead leaves, for example, are prime growth areas for mold.
- Keep your windows closed at night when sleeping to keep out outdoor mold.
Medication for Allergy Relief
Treating mold allergies and season allergies often involves the same medications.
Antihistamines will help reduce your sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and your runny nose. Common medications include:
You can use decongestants and nasal sprays to help with nasal congestion. Montelukast (Singulair) is a medication that is often prescribed by your doctor. It blocks the action of leukotrienes — immune system chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as excess mucus. However, over-the-counter medications are often safe and effective for most allergy sufferers.
Older People and Allergies
Doctors will sometimes misdiagnose simple allergy symptoms as a more severe health issue, perhaps connected to their already being treated for. If simple allergies are misdiagnosed, the allergies' inflammatory responses could lead to more serious chronic illnesses. Many medical specialists suggest the simple diagnosis is often the correct one. They recommend ruling out seasonal, mold, or other environmental allergies before any treatment starts.
The difference between seasonal allergies and mold allergies can be hard to spot. Once you can identify what makes them distinct, though, you'll be able to determine which you may be suffering from and how best to find relief.
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