A Quick Guide to Coping with Mildew Allergy
Fungus is a fact of life; in the proper atmosphere, it is beneficial in the lifecycles of all plants and animals, yet for those who harbor a mildew allergy, it causes only detrimental effects. Since mold and mildew can be found virtually anywhere on earth at any time of the year, people who suffer the symptoms of this allergy are unable to escape its misery.
Facts about mildew
Although most have heard the terms mold and mildew used interchangeably, in the scientific world, it is only plant life that is affected by mildew while mold can grow anywhere. As a living organism, fungus such as mildew grows when conditions are optimal. Heat and humidity are the breeding grounds that invite the whitish colored substance to collect on the leaves of plants. Rarely is the effect overwhelming; it is usually a thin coating that is fuzzy in texture. Like other fungi, mildew has a reproductive period in which spores are released into the air to be carried to destinations unknown before being deposited on other organic matter where it can take hold in the right conditions.
Allergies to mildew
Spores from mildew can, in some people, cause allergic reactions that produce problematic and uncomfortable symptoms. Breathing in the spores is easy and unavoidable when outdoors, especially during the period between July and September. The immune system reacts immediately for those who are sensitive to the irritant. Common symptoms are watery, itchy eyes; runny nose; nasal stuffiness; sneezing; coughing and wheezing. During the height of the season, these symptoms can be severe and debilitating.
Staying indoors would seem to be the solution for this type of allergy. However, since the spores become airborne they can be carried indoors on clothing, pets and through screened windows. During particularly warm and humid summers, the spores can regenerate on houseplants, where they will thrive and reproduce until removed. Vehicles can pull the spores in via the fresh air vents, which can recycle the spore laden air throughout the car or truck.
Coping with mildew allergy
While it may seem as though it would be impossible to avoid mildew, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of being exposed. Within the home, keeping the humidity level low will discourage mildew from growing, as it requires both moisture and heat to proliferate. If using an air conditioner in the home, perform weekly cleanings on filters to avoid recirculation of spores. Pets who are allowed outdoors should be wiped down with pet cleaning wipes after each run to eliminate as many spores as possible that they may be carrying in. During the height of the season, which generally runs from July to September, avoid spending extensive time in the outdoors where the spores are most active.
To alleviate the symptoms caused by the allergy, many individuals use over the counter antihistamine products. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid derived from grape seed that has been proven to shrink swollen membranes and is beneficial for allergy sufferers. It is helpful to take steps to decrease the severity of the symptoms, as well. Taking adequate doses of Vitamin C and maintaining a healthy diet allows the immune system to operate optimally, which can result in less sensitivity to the allergen. Vitamin B5 is another immune booster that can greatly reduce the incidence of irritation in some people.
Since fungus is a substance that can be found anywhere, it can be difficult for those with a mildew allergy to avoid suffering from the symptoms it can produce. Those who know how to avoid the irritant and to treat the symptoms will have the tools they need to cope with the effects of the allergy.