Seasonal Allergies or Mold Problems? How to Tell the Difference

If you’ve been sniffling and sneezing lately, you may have attributed the symptoms to seasonal allergies – but are you sure it isn’t something more? Your body’s response to pollen, ragweed, and grasses looks very similar to symptoms caused by indoor mold problems, except that when left unattended, mold allergies can quickly turn into something much worse.

So how can you tell the difference between the two? There are a few approaches you can take to try to differentiate between the very similar symptoms.

Spotting the Symptoms

The primary symptoms of both seasonal allergies and mold allergies include itchy eyes, sneezing, and a running or stuffy nose. What really sets these apart, however, is that seasonal allergies are restricted to certain times of year, mold allergies can last year round. So if your symptoms consistently start up each year around the same time, and then taper off, you can be fairly certain you suffer from hayfever. But if the symptoms stick around, you may be facing a mold problem.

Seeking The Source

One reason you may not realize you have a mold allergy is because you can’t always see the mold causing the reaction. Recent roof damage, for example, may create invisible leaks, as can internal condensation between your living space and attic. Mold also hides out behind sinks and showers, and in other areas where water may get in, even if you think you’ve taken the proper precautions by running your ventilation fans and keeping your plumbing well maintained.

Children And Mold Allergies

In some ways, your child is like a canary in a coal mine when it comes to mold – they’re more vulnerable to even minor exposures because of their smaller, developing bodies. In addition to itchy eyes and sneezing, your child may experience wheezing and other upper respiratory concerns; mold can also especially irritate children with asthma.

If you’re not sure whether pollen or mold is the culprit, you can try an over the counter allergy medication for a period of time to control the symptoms and then attempt to tape off the medicine as the season changes. If you or your child can’t successfully eliminate allergy medication when outdoor pollen counts are low, it’s time to consult a doctor, as well as possibly a contractor or plumber to help you find any hidden mold.

Long term exposure to particular kinds of mold can be life threatening, contributing to chronic headaches and nosebleeds and can cause poisons called mycotoxins to build up in the body’s fat cells, causing immunodeficiencies and even cancer. They can also cause digestive issues, reproductive issues, and heart problems, with children and the elderly both especially vulnerable to these effects.

Don’t delay if you suspect there may be mold problems in your home, and be sure to see a doctor for proper testing. Your doctor will also be able to help mitigate some of the toxic effects of the mold and provide advice about how to proceed until any mold can be eradicated from your home. For those with severe allergies, it may be necessary to temporarily relocate in order to treat the resultant illnesses, but with time and professional mold removal, life should return to normal in short order.