It's that time of year again.
Allergy season is in full swing and mold spores are coming out of hiding.
Mold allergies, also known as sick building syndrome, are one of the most common allergies during the early spring.
Liz Morgan, allergy nurse at Dr. Jeffery Morgan's office in Warren, said she considers mold the most common allergen next to dust allergies in the area.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health website, mold is a "microscopic fungi that live on plant or animal matter. They are present almost everywhere in indoor and outdoor environments. They can cause discoloration, odor problems and possible destruction of building materials. They also may lead to health problems for building occupants, which may include allergic reactions in susceptible individuals."
Morgan said, "Warm, wet and cool conditions bring about mold spores in the air. Certain molds grow better in these types of conditions. Since the weather has been warmer during the day then freezing at night, the mold spores are released into the atmosphere during the day and then killed at night and haven't become too much of a problem. But when the temperatures continually stay above freezing both day and night, then that's when people start to get sick."
Since Warren County is near the Allegheny National Forest and has two major waterways running through the area, Morgan said, the damp climate does have more of an effect on residents because these types of areas are, "more apt to grow mold."
She also said the bathroom variety of mold, and mold found in gardens, are the ones she comes in contact with the most.
"Those who have a damp sink, wet towels thrown in laundry baskets that are forgotten about for a few days, and musty-smelling bathrooms," said Morgan. "Also, those who have decayed vegetation in their garden is a primary site for exposure. These are the things that get most people in trouble with mold."
Symptoms of a mold or fungus allergy include wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, eye irritation and fatigue.
For those who think that they may be experiencing the effects of a mold, Morgan suggests getting one of two tests for allergies - a blood test or a prick allergy test.
According to Morgan, persons who suffer from severe mold allergies should wear a mask when working in high mold areas as well as avoiding mold problem areas.
Morgan said one thing that people often don't realize is there are food sources for mold as well that can trigger an allergy.
Cheese, mushrooms, vinegar, pickles, ketchup, sour cream, sour and butter milk, beer, wine, brandy, gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, ginger ale, root beer, meat or fish more than 24 hours old, sour breads, sauerkraut, pickled and smoked meats and fish, dried fruits, soy sauce, tofu, tea, chocolate and dried spices are on the list of common food sources of mold to avoid.
Allergies, said Morgan, can be taken care of three ways - environmentally through cleaning, specific allergy medications, or an allergy shot.
If your house has mold buildup, it is important to eliminate existing mold with an antifungal product such as Clorox or Lysol. Any old wallpaper or bath mats should be replaced as well because they can harbor large amounts of bacteria and mold, according to Morgan.
Also, it is important to clean out the refrigerator, discarding any old food and washing the drip pan.
To make sure that mold doesn't begin to form inside your home over a period of time, remember to check the bathroom, kitchen and roof for leaks and repair them.