How To Deal With Mould In Your Home

With our season moving toward summer, this time of the year we experience a rainy and very hot season. Perfect for mould to grow in our homes. Mould can be found throughout your house and the outdoors, and it's one of the most common triggers of nasal allergies and asthma.

What Is Mould?

There are different types of fungus that reproduce by forming spores that aren't visible to the naked eye. These spores can travel through the air and, when inhaled, cause allergies. Many times, we call mould "mildew" when we see it growing in shower stalls and bathrooms or where there has been a water leak in the house.

A damp humid bathroom is an ideal breeding ground for mould. Outdoor moulds are usually found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation are decomposing. Autumn is another ideal time of year when you see a lot of outdoor mould growth – particularly in piles of leaves and in gutters that haven't been cleared.

Mould allergy can develop when your immune system has a hyper reaction to the fungal spores. This can lead to classic symptoms of nasal allergies like sneezing, runny nose and congestion. Some people with allergies may have red, itchy and watery eyes.

Not only can mould trigger nose and eye troubles, but it can also lead to coughing, chest tightness and wheezing – all symptoms of asthma. There is a rare allergic-type condition caused by mould which can lead to lung damage.

If you have concerns with mould in your home, here are some FAQ’s to help you.

What can I do to reduce my exposure to mould? 

Any areas that may have high humidity, like bathrooms, kitchens and basements, can breed mould. Keep carpeting out of the bathroom and basement, as it easily harbours mould growth. Potted plants should be kept to a minimum, and you may want to skip the live Christmas tree (sorry folks) since it could be covered in spores that you would be bringing into the house.

If you use a commercial mildew product for removing mould in your home, make sure to follow all manufacturers’ instructions for proper use. If you suspect there has been water leakage anywhere in the house, clean it up immediately to prevent mould growth. Any carpeting or bedding that gets water damage should be removed from your home or washed and dried properly, as simply cleaning it is unlikely to get rid of all the mould.

Outdoors: Remove compost piles, wood piles and grass cuttings near the house, where mould tends to grow.

[See: Sleeping with Your Pets

If I find mould in my home, should I have my house tested?

In general, there is no need to investigate the specific type of mould, as that information won't change the treatment of your mould allergy.

Do I have to see mould before I suspect I have mould allergy?

No, almost all homes have some level of mould in the air that you can't see – but that can still contribute to allergy symptoms.

What should I do if I have removed all signs of mould or can't find any – and I still have symptoms?

If you're having nasal and/or eye symptoms, you should try over-the-counter nasal sprays, oral antihistamines and anti-allergy eye drops. If these don't help, there are prescription allergy treatments that may provide relief.

Check with your doctor. If at any time you experience a recurrent cough, chest tightness or wheezing, go to your doctor immediately. You may be having an asthma attack, which could be life-threatening.

What if I'm getting worse and I'm not sure if I have mould allergy? How can I find out?

It may be difficult to know if mould is leading to your allergy and asthma problems. Testing your blood or doing skin testing can determine if you have allergic sensitivity to moulds commonly found in your area. Mould allergy can be a serious condition, but it can be controlled with proper management. Allergists are specially trained to help you take control of your allergies and asthma, so you can live the life you want.