Q: I’m wondering if I could be allergic to mold, since I cough and get stuffed up once the leaves fall and start to rot. Plus, I notice feeling that way in a damp basement. Is there a way to test this and treat it?
Dr. Bassett: An estimated 10 percent of the population has mold sensitivity (with detectable IgE antibodies to mold spores), and 5 percent experience actual allergic symptoms to these fungi. Diagnostic allergy skin testing is quite simple to have performed in an allergist’s office. That, along with discussion of your history of symptoms, would be the first steps in identifying whether you indeed have an allergy to mold.
Be prepared, if you suffer from mold allergy, to do some planning and develop an effective mitigation program. A good rule of thumb is that if you smell mildew, you’ve got mold contamination. Get both a dehumidifier an low cost hygrometer. Make sure the latter reads below 50 percent humidity in the affected room.
It is quite costly to have a professional mold inspection and remediation work done, but in some situations, such as after a flood, it may be unavoidable. If you are dealing with a mildew situation, it is always better to be ready to act to prevent future allergies, sinus issues and/or asthma.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, allergist and asthma specialist, is the Medical Director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York (Allergyreliefnyc.com; Twitter @allergyreliefny). He is also on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
How to Get a Hold on Mold