Tips for Coping With Autumn Asthma Triggers (Part 2): Molds
If you're noticing that your asthma symptoms have worsened lately, it might be due to autumn asthma triggers. Triggers that are presented as summer fades into autumn include both ragweed and other weed pollens, as well as outdoor mold spores. In this post, we'll explore the impact that exposure to mold spores can have on people with allergic asthma.
About mold spores and asthma
Mold spores can be present in both indoor and outdoor environments nearly year-round, but outdoor mold spore levels are especially high during late summer and into the fall.
Molds and mildews are a type of fungi and they live everywhere. The seeds or spores travel through the air, much as pollen does. Like pollen, mold spores can spread on dry, windy days. But they can also be upset through physical contact and may spread through fog or dew as well.
Indoor molds are usually found in moist places, such as kitchens, bathrooms and basements. The type of molds we are more concerned with in the fall, though, are the ones found outside in the soil of your gardens, in piles of fallen leaves or in fields of uncut grass.
Some molds are visible, while others cannot be seen with the naked eye. And not all molds trigger allergies. You may be allergic to one type of mold, but not to others.
Allergic reactions to mold spores
Inhaling mold spores can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people, with symptoms like sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, irritated eyes and itching of the nose and mouth. When you have asthma, an allergic reaction can worsen your asthma symptoms, such as:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
Sometimes the allergy and asthma symptoms from exposure to mold occur right away. But often, the symptoms creep up and get worse over time. You might find that an asthma attack takes you by surprise.
How to lessen the impact of mold spores on your asthma
As with all allergens, the key to allergy and asthma control is avoidance. But, given the fact that molds live everywhere, it may be hard to completely avoid them. Still, there are some actions you can take that will help:
Stay indoors when outdoor mold spore counts are high
The National Allergy Board is a good place to check on your local mold counts.
Avoid raking leaves
Molds are often found in piles of fall leaves, and raking will stir up the spores and release them into the air. If you must be the one to rake, then wear a mask fitted with a HEPA-filter. Be sure to shed your outer layer of clothes when you go indoors, and shower or at least wash your hands thoroughly. (It's also a good idea to avoid uncut fields.)
Wear a mask when digging in your garden
Weeding and harvesting can also release mold spores from the soil in your gardens. So, wearing a HEPA-filter mask can prevent you from inhaling these spores.
Use air conditioning in your home and car
This will help keep the mold spores from getting into the air you breathe. If your air conditioner has a HEPA-filter, it's even better. And be sure to use the recirculate function, if available.
Take your allergy and asthma medications as directed
If you know that outdoor molds are one of your triggers, then taking your allergy medicine before your symptoms start may help prevent them from occurring at all. Always take your daily asthma controller medication and have your quick relief/rescue inhaler on hand at all times, especially if outdoors.
If you're anything like me, you may find that fall allergies can be brutal and can often lead to asthma flares and full-blown attacks. Many of us love to be outdoors in the late summer and fall, and there is no reason you can't do so. However, if you can plan your times wisely for when mold spore and weed pollen levels are not at their highest and avoid activities sure to stir up mold spores, you're more likely to keep your asthma under control.
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