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Allergies are probably the most common reaction to contact with
molds. Atopic individuals (those who experience allergic reactions
that is often hereditary) who are exposed to mold, mold spores, or
mold byproducts may manifest allergic reactions once they become
vulnerable (sensitized) to the particular mold. The reactions can
run the spectrum, from very mild and temporary reactions to acute,
chronic illness. Of course, molds are simply one of the causes of
indoor allergens. Other common causes include dust mites,
cockroaches, effluvia from domestic pets and other microorganisms
(molds are included in this category).
However, according to The Institute of Medicine:
1 in 5 Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis, the most
common chronic disease in humans.
1 in 9 Americans suffer from allergy-related sinusitis.
1 in 10 Americans have allergic-related asthma.
1 in 11 Americans experience allergic dermatitis.
Less than 1 in 100 Americans suffer from serious
chronic allergic diseases.
These statistics indicate that allergic reactions are extremely
common in humans. Often times, the specific cause of the allergies
is in question. Recently, the existence of mold in homes and
workplaces has cropped up as a very real possibility as the cause
of some of these allergic reactions.
Many different types of molds can put their spores and byproducts
into the air, but only a few purified mold allergens are available
for allergy tests. Atopic individuals can become sensitized to certain
molds, but this may not always be cited by a health care professional
as a mold-related allergy. A positive mold allergy test indicates that
an individual is susceptible to a specific allergen, but testing negative
doesn't necessarily rule out mold allergy for atopic individuals.