Houston’s high humidity levels make for a constant battle against mold and mildew. If you have a mold allergy, it can often mean living with persistent symptoms that include runny nose, headaches, itchy and watery eyes and a hoarse cough. The recent hurricane and resulting flooding and debris can make black mold in Houston worse than ever. To help affected citizens cope with the damage, American Sinus Institute is donating $10 from every copay to the Mayor’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund in Houston through the month of October.

Why Has Hurricane Harvey Made Mold Worse?

Mold spores are constantly present. You can’t see them, but they float on the air and land on surfaces waiting for the chance to develop. After a hurricane like Harvey, flooded and damp areas make the perfect mold hosts. FEMA says that mold can begin developing as little as 24 hours after water exposure. In the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, investigators found that almost half of the homes that were damaged by floodwaters contained mold after the storm.

What Is Black Mold?

Mold comes in many colors. Most people are allergic to mold do not specifically have a black mold allergy. Rather, they are allergic to any of many kinds and can experience allergic symptoms when exposed.

In the 1990s, the CDC explored the possibility that specific molds such as Strachybotrus chartarum were connected to certain severe respiratory disorders. While their studies showed that there was no connection, the “toxic mold” misnomer stuck.

The truth is that many types of mold you encounter inside homes or businesses can cause allergy symptoms and can aggravate conditions such as asthma. These reactions can be found even in people who do not exhibit other respiratory conditions or nasal allergies. Mold exposure, whether it is black mold or another type, can be harmful to your health. For this reason, the World Health Organization has created guidelines to help improve indoor air quality and reduce exposure to mold.

What Are the Symptoms of Mold Allergy?

The most common reaction when exposed to mold include the usual array of hay fever symptoms: a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, coughing and nasal irritation. In young children, early and frequent exposure has been linked to a higher chance of developing asthma. Individuals who have chronic respiratory illnesses may find their conditions exacerbated by exposure to mold.

What Can I Do About Mold?

The best way to avoid mold allergy symptoms is to avoid exposure to mold. If your home has been water damaged, you may need professional mold mitigation to remove it from inside carpet pads, behind walls and cabinets and underneath your floor. Items like mattresses, pillows, stuffed animals and soft furniture that have been exposed to flood conditions may need to be discarded.

Can I Reduce My Susceptibility?

Allergy treatment that includes medication or allergy shots can help eliminate reactions to black mold and other allergens. If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, you can also find relief through treatments like balloon sinuplasty that open up airways and help you breathe more easily.

Do you think that you may have a black mold allergy? Making an appointment to come in this month has an added benefit: we are donating $10 from every copay to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Get in touch today to learn more about allergies and the best ways to protect your health and to help others recover from the storm.