Mold Allergens

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 Molds produce at least 107 well characterized allergens. Hundreds of less- well characterized mold allergens may also exist. These mold allergens can often cause IgE related hypersensitivity reactions. Many studies have reported that exposure to higher levels of outdoor or indoor mold spores and/or indoor dampness is significantly associated with higher rates of both the development of asthma and the worsening of asthma. 

Teresa Twaroch et al. Mold allergens in Respiratory Allergy: From Structure to Therapy. Allergy Asthma Immunological Research 2015:7:205-20.

One Chicago study reported that asthma related deaths were about twice as great during days of high outdoor air mold spore count as compared to days with low mold spore counts. Exposure to airborne mold has also been linked to higher rates of sinus problems.

About 3 to 10% of the world population is estimated to be sensitive to mold. The 4 genera most apt to cause respiratory or skin sensitivity are Alternaria, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Penicillium. At least 80,000 fungal species have been described. The authors state that “mold allergy has long been underestimated and occurs more frequently than expected”.
Reduced exposure to molds can often reduce allergic symptoms. Another approach that is helpful to many people is the use of mold immunotherapy involving either mold allergens injected into the skin (SIT or subcutaneous immunotherapy) or placed under the tongue (SLIT or sublingual immunotherapy). Such immunotherapy over time can reduce respiratory, skin and eye reactions to molds. However, such therapy does have risks for adverse reactions such as skin rashes, redness, stuff nose, wheezing and rarely- anaphylactic reactions. SLIT seems to be safer than SIT.

 

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