Healthy Homes investigates a structures level of moisture. Controlling a structures moisture level can be a cost effective means of reducing indoor pollutant levels.
An allergen is a usually harmless substance capable of triggering a response that starts in the immune system and results in an allergic reaction.
For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, your immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen. The immune system responds by releasing chemicals that typically cause symptoms in the nose, throat, eyes, ears, skin or roof of the mouth.
In addition to pollen, other common allergens include dust mites, animal dander, mold, medications, insect venoms and various foods.
In 1952 basidiospores were described as being possible airborne allergen and were linked to asthma in 1969. Basidiospores are the dominant airborne fungal allergens. Fungal allergies are associated with seasonal asthma. They are considered to be a major source of airborne allergens. The basidospore family include mushrooms, rusts, smuts, brackets, and puffballs. The airborne spores from mushrooms reach levels comparable to those of mold and pollens. The levels of mushroom respiratory allergy are as high as 30 percent of those with allergic disorder, but it is believed to be less than 1 percent of food allergies. Heavy rainfall (which increases fungal spore release) is associated with increased hospital admissions of children with asthma. Mushroom spore allergies can cause either immediate allergic symptomatology or delayed allergic reactions. Those with asthma are more likely to have immediate allergic reactions and those with allergic rhinitis are more likely to have delayed allergic responses.
In Canada, 8% of children attending allergy clinics were found to be allergic to Ganoderma, a basidiospore. Pleurotus ostreatus, cladosporium, and Calvatia cyathiformis are significant airborne spores. Other significant fungal allergens include aspergillus and alternaria–penicillin families. In India Fomes pectinatus is a predominant air-borne allergen affecting up to 22 percent of patients with respiratory allergies. Some fungal air-borne allergens such as Coprinus comatus are associated with worsening of eczematous skin lesions. Children who are born during autumn months (during fungal spore season) are more likely to develop asthmatic symptoms later in life.
Treatment includes over-the-counter medications, antihistamines, nasal decongestants, allergy shots, and alternative medicine. In the case of nasal symptoms, antihistamines are normally the first option. They may be taken together with pseudoephedrine to help relieve a stuffy nose and they can stop the itching and sneezing. Some over-the-counter options are Benadryl and Tavist. However, these antihistamines may cause extreme drowsiness, therefore, people are advised to not operate heavy machinery or drive while taking this kind of medication. Other side effects include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, difficulty with urination, confusion, and light-headedness. There is also a newer second generation of antihistamines that are generally classified as the “non-sedating antihistamines” or anti-drowsy, which include cetirizine, loratadine, and fexofenadine.
An example of nasal decongestants is pseudoephedrine and its side-effects include insomnia, restlessness, and difficulty urinating. Some other nasal sprays are available by prescription, including Azelastine and Ipratropium. Some of their side-effects include drowsiness. For eye symptoms, it is important to first bath the eyes with plain eyewashes to reduce the irritation. People should not wear contact lenses during episodes of conjunctivitis.
Allergen immunotherapy treatment involves administering doses of allergens to accustom the body to induce specific long-term tolerance. Allergy immunotherapy can be administered orally (as sublingual tablets or sublingual drops), or by injections under the skin (subcutaneous). Immunotherapy contains a small amount of the substance that triggers the allergic reaction.