What treatments are available for mould allergies?

The best treatment for a mould allergy is to rid your house of moulds altogether. Because moulds can live in a variety of conditions, this might be difficult. Reducing the humidity level in your house is one key step to removing moulds altogether. Make sure you get any leaks fixed, and remove carpets and furniture that might be damp and harbouring mould colonies. You can buy a dehumidifier that will remove water vapour from the air – this can be useful if you suffer from house dust mite allergies as well. Some air cleaners can also remove mould spores. You can also buy anti-mould solutions which can remove and kill any moulds in your house.

There are also medications for the allergic signs and symptoms of a mould allergy. What medications will be most appropriate depends on your symptoms, and how severe they are.

Nasal symptoms can be treated with nasal sprays. These come in many varieties.

Decongestant nasal sprays simply clear out a blocked nose. Examples of a decongestant nasal spray include ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, or phenylephrine. They work by acting on the nervous system to narrow the blood vessels in your nose (vasoconstriction), which can make a nose less blocked and also help reduce the amount of mucus. A blocked nose is caused by blood vessels in your nose becoming wider (vasodilation), and these drugs can cause the blood vessels to become narrower again, thus creating more space in your nasal cavity. Decongestant nasal sprays can clear your nose before you use another type of nasal spray. Care must be taken that you do not over-use these, as this can result in a blocked nose which was worse than it was to begin with.

You can also get antihistamine nasal sprays. Examples of antihistamines are cetirizine or loratadine. Antihistamines work by acting against histamine receptors and thus stopping histamine giving you symptoms. Histamine is a chemical that is released from mast cells when allergens are present, and their effects on the body produce the signs and symptoms of allergy. Steroids, such as beclometasone dipropionate (Beconase), can also be found as nasal sprays, and these work by stopping the production of chemicals known as leukotrienes and prostraglandins, which can contribute to the symptoms of allergy. Leukotriene antagonists, such as montelukast and zafirlukast, act against leukotrienes. They have fewer side effects that steroids, but are also less effective.

Eye symptoms can be treated using eye drops. As with nasal sprays, there are a few different types of eye drop. You may be able to find hydrating eye drops, which can relieve symptoms but should not be used too regularly, as you can get a rebound reaction where your eyes become more dry and irritated than they were before you started using the eye drops. Antihistamine eye drops, such as cetirizine hydrochloride, are effective within 10 - 15 minutes. Sodium cromoglicate and nedocromil can act on mast cells (the cells involved with allergy) and can stop them releasing histamine. You should not wear contact lenses when using eye drops.

Asthma-like symptoms can be relieved by inhalers, however, inhalers are only given out by prescription. You can see your doctor if you need to obtain an inhaler.

You are most likely to be given the “blue” inhaler first. This is likely to contain terbutaline or salbutamol, which are beta-2 adrenergic agonists. These drugs act on the nervous system to relax the muscles around your airways and allow your airways to open up again. This can quickly relieve symptoms such as wheezing or difficulty breathing. One puff of this inhaler should be taken whenever necessary, and the effects can last 3 – 4 hours.

If you still require more medication for symptoms of asthma, you may be given the “brown” inhaler. This contains a corticosteroid, which stops some important immune chemicals being produced (these chemicals are leukotrienes and prostraglandins). These chemicals can worsen symptoms by making blood vessels wider (vasodilation) and leaky, and can attract other white blood cells to the area, making symptoms worse. Examples of corticosteroids used for treating asthma symptoms are beclometasone dipropionate and budesonide. These drugs should be taken twice a day, and you should continue using the blue inhaler as needed.

Should you still require more medication, your doctor may assess how well you are doing and may decide to add a long-acting beta-2 adrenergic agonist to your plan. This group includes drugs like salmeterol and formoterol, and are the “green” inhalers. These work in a similar fashion to the drugs in the “blue” inhalers, however, their effects are longer lasting. They provide relief for approximately 12 hours. You should still continue using the brown and blue inhalers too. The effects of the green inhaler can last the whole night and might be the key to a good night's sleep if your symptoms are severe.

If this is ineffective, your doctor may change the dosage of your brown inhaler, and may also decide to give you other drugs. One class of these other drugs are leukotriene receptor antagonists. These drugs stop additional white blood cells being drawn to the area, and have fewer side effects than steroid drugs. Examples of leukotriene receptor antagonists are montelukast and zafirlukast. Alternatively, you might be given theophylline in a tablet form, which can relax the muscles around your airways and open up your airways. If your asthma symptoms continue to be troublesome, you may be given corticosteroid tablets too.

If you suffer from an acute asthma attack, you may need treatment in hospital, as poorly managed asthma may result in death.

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