I had a new house built in the Orange Groves, turns out I'm highly allergic to mold spores. Antihistamines help but don't tolerate them well. Living in the house causes headaches and loud ringing in my ears. I have the house for sale. Meanwhile, can you recommend anything to deal with the allergies? Also tried a variety of air purifiers and air filters to no avail.
For some people, allergies can be a difficult thing to treat. There are pharmacologic (drug) and non-pharmacologic treatments available that may provide some relief. Here, is a look at both types of treatments.
Drug Treatment Options for Mold Allergies
The course of treatment for mold allergies can involve several different drug therapies. Options can include nasal steroid sprays, oral antihistamines and nasal decongestants.
Nasal Steroid Sprays
Nasal steroid sprays found over the counter (OTC), such as Flonase (Fluticasone), Rhinocort Allergy (Budesonide) and Nasacort Allergy 24HR (Triamcinolone), are a great treatment option for patients who have difficulty taking oral antihistamines. Nasal steroids work on several inflammatory chemicals that lead to allergy symptoms. These nasal steroid sprays can help give relief to the following allergy symptoms:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes
Treatment with nasal steroids can take up to a week to see the full benefits of the therapy. Nasal steroids are generally well tolerated. The following are the most common side effects seen:
- Nasal irritation
- Nasal bleeding
Oral antihistamines are used to treat the symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes and nose and watery eyes. There are two classes of oral antihistamines, first generation and second generation antihistamines. The main difference between first and second generation antihistamines is that first generation antihistamines generally cause a significant amount of drowsiness or sedation and second generation antihistamines are considered non-sedating with little to no drowsiness or sedation. Examples of first and second generation antihistamines include:
First generation antihistamine: Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)
Second generation antihistamine: Claritin (Loratadine), Allegra (Fexofenadine) and Zyrtec (Cetirizine)
For patients who have only tried Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) for allergy relief, it is advised to give the second generation of antihistamines a try. They are usually much more well tolerated than the first generation antihistamines.
Sometimes, patients may have a lot of congestion associated with allergies. When other options like nasal steroid sprays or oral antihistamines don’t give enough relief, adding a nasal decongestant may help. Nasal decongestants like Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) or Sudafed PE (Phenylephrine) help relieve the pressure and nasal congestion.
Nasal decongestants should NOT be used by patients with the following conditions without checking with their doctor or other health care provider:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Increased intraocular pressure
- Prostate disease
Options Other Than Drug Treatment for Mold Allergies
Indoor allergies are primarily due to mold and dust mites. Both tend to thrive in areas that are warm and humid. Below are some options for dealing with these indoor allergies.
- Use a dehumidifier: Dehumidifiers bring the humidity down present in your home. Humidity should be at less than 40% in your home. This alone can make a significant improvement on allergy symptoms by decreasing the mold and dust mites present in the home.
- Cover your bedding: Using impermeable mattress covers and other bedding can decrease the dust mite population. Bedding that cannot be covered should be washed weekly in hot water.
- Properly vent high humidity areas of home: Make sure all bathroom vents are working. The kitchen cooking areas is another area where high humidity can exist if not vented properly.
- Know when there are allergy alerts in your areas: There are apps available that can alert you to high mold counts in your area. On these days, limit outdoor time and shower when you are home for the day. This can facilitate waking up in the morning without terrible allergy symptoms.
Following the above recommendations on treatment options can help remove the allergy symptoms associated with a mold allergy. If the majority of these recommendations have been tried and no relief has been seen, then it is time to go see an allergist. Allergist can pinpoint allergies and develop appropriate treatment plans. What may seem to be a mold allergy, could be something else entirely. Allergy testing can help determine your true cause of your symptoms and provide the quickest relief when nothing else is working.