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Monday, April 18, 2011

Mold Allergies

Welcome back readers. Today I will be discussing mold allergies and how they affect you.

If you have allergy symptoms year-round -- or if they get worse in damp weather -- you may be allergic to mold. While people with pollen allergies tend to have seasonal symptoms, mold allergies can flare all year long. Indoor mold can be a problem in winter months, because mold will grow in your house where there is enough moisture -- whether it's on a basement wall, in your crawl space, a damp carpet, or behind the bathroom tile.

What is Mold?
Mold, also known as fungus, is a family of organisms that are found throughout nature. Unlike plants, mold need food and water sources in order to thrive. This food source is often in the form of a carbohydrate material, such as wood or cellulose. Molds grow in units called mycelium and reproduce through the formation of spores. Spores frequently become airborne, and like pollen, can cause allergic disease. Mold is an organism that is present is most places, outdoors and indoors. It is a type of fungus that works to break down dead material and return nutrients to the environment. Mold grows by digesting plant or animal matter, such as leaves, wood, paper, dirt, and food and spreads by releasing tiny, lightweight spores that travel through the air. Mold grows quickly in moist dark spaces, such as basements, garbage cans and piles of rotting leaves.
On food, mold often is visible on the food's surface, such as the fuzzy green spots that appear on bread. However, molds also have branches and roots. As it grows, the mold's roots can penetrate deep inside the food, where it cannot be seen.
All of us are exposed to some mold every day with no bad effects. We may breathe in mold spores that are present in the air or eat foods in which mold has begun to grow. People with mold allergies, however, may have a reaction if exposed to too much of the fungus.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of a mold reaction are those typical of many other allergies. They include:
• Wheezing
• Stuffy or runny nose
• Itchy, watery eyes
• Rash or hives
If you have a mold allergy, avoiding all exposure to mold may not be possible. However, you can reduce your risk of reaction by choosing your foods carefully. Check all foods for signs of mold before you eat them. Do not smell foods to see if they are spoiled because inhaling mold spores can set off an allergic reaction. In addition, you can avoid foods that are more likely to contain mold or other fungi, such as mushrooms and yeast.
Common food sources of mold include:
• Cheese
• Mushrooms
• Vinegar and foods containing vinegar, such as salad dressing, catsup, and pickles
• Sour cream, sour milk, and buttermilk
• Meat or fish more than 24 hours old
• Breads and other food made with yeast
• Sauerkraut
• Pickled and smoked meats and fish
• Dried fruits such as dates, prunes, figs, and raisins
• Soy sauce
• Hot dogs, sausages
• Canned juices

Which Molds are known to Cause Allergies?
There are thousands of types of mold, however, only a few of these are currently available for allergy testing. The following are the most likely causes of allergic disease based on the types of mold spores collected in the air:
• Alternaria. A common outdoor mold; allergy to this mold can be associated with severe asthma.
• Cladosporium. The most common airborne outdoor mold.
• Aspergillus. A common indoor and outdoor mold; also associated with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
• Penicillium. A common indoor mold; allergy to which is not associated with antibiotic allergy.
• Helminthosporum. More commonly found in warmer climates.
• Epicoccum. Found in grassland and agricultural areas.
• Fusarium. Commonly found on rotting plants.
• Aureobasidium. Common outdoor mold, commonly found on paper, lumber and painted surfaces.
• Phoma. An outdoor mold, especially common during wet periods.
• Smuts. Abundantly found in areas of agriculture.
• Rhizopus and Mucor. Commonly found on decaying leaves and damp indoor areas. Airborne forms of these molds are less common.
• Yeasts. Commonly found in the air during wet periods in agricultural areas. Allergic disease to Candida albicans is controversial, despite some people having positive allergy testing to this type of mold.
Since day one of blogging about allergies it is quite amazing how often the human race is exposed to one form of allergen of many types. Allergies even if minor can be the cause of many other ailments we may have. As I have said before if you think you may have any symptoms of any sort make an appointment with an allergist.

Recipe of the day: By Jean – Georges Vongerichten
Yield: 4 servings
Broth Base
• 1/2 onion, sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 chile, chopped
• 2 slices galangal or ginger
• 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 2-inch sticks and smashed
• 1 teaspoon red Thai curry paste
• 2 Tablespoons sunflower oil
• 4 cups chicken broth
• 2 cups coconut milk
• Fish sauce (nampla) to taste (available at Asian specialty markets)
• 2 Tablespoons lime juice
• 2 pieces scallion, sliced
• 4 sprigs coriander
• 2 raw chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 12 shiitake caps, cut into strips
Sweat the onions, garlic, chile, galangal, lemongrass and curry paste in sunflower oil for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for 1/2 hour
At the last minute, add coconut milk, chicken breast, and shiitakes. Season with nampla and lime juice. Cook 2 minutes. Divide into 4 bowls. Garnish with scallions and coriander springs. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Enjoy and see you next time on Life around the allergies.

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