The best treatment for any allergy is to take steps to avoid exposure to your triggers. However, molds are common, and you can't completely avoid them. While there's no sure way to cure a mold allergy, a number of medications can ease your symptoms. These include:
- Nasal corticosteroids. These nasal sprays help prevent and treat the inflammation caused by an upper respiratory mold allergy. For many people they're the most effective allergy medications, and they're often the first medication prescribed. Examples include ciclesonide (Omnaris), fluticasone (Flonase), mometasone (Nasonex), triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ), budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua). Nosebleeds and nasal dryness are the most common side effects of these medications, which are generally safe for long-term use.
- Antihistamines. These medications can help with itching, sneezing and runny nose. They work by blocking histamine, an inflammatory chemical released by your immune system during an allergic reaction. Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines include loratadine (Alavert, Claritin), fexofenadine (Allegra) and cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy). They cause little to no drowsiness or dry mouth. Older antihistamines such as clemastine (Tavist-1) work as well, but can make you drowsy, affect work and school performance, and cause dry mouth. The nasal sprays azelastine (Astelin, Astepro) and olopatadine hydrochloride (Patanase) are available by prescription. Side effects of the nasal sprays may include a bitter taste in your mouth and nasal dryness.
- Oral decongestants. OTC oral decongestants include Sudafed and Drixoral. Because oral decongestants can raise blood pressure, avoid them if you have high blood pressure (hypertension). Possible side effects include high blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, heart pounding (palpitations), anxiety and restlessness.
- Decongestant nasal sprays. These include oxymetazoline (Afrin, others). Don't use these medications for more than three or four days, as they can cause congestion to come back with even worse symptoms when you stop using them. Other possible side effects include headache, insomnia and nervousness.
- Montelukast. Montelukast (Singulair) is a tablet taken to block the action of leukotrienes — immune system chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as excess mucus. It has proved effective in treating allergic asthma, and it's also effective in treating mold allergy. Like antihistamines, this medication is not as effective as inhaled corticosteroids. It's often used when nasal sprays cannot be tolerated, or when mild asthma is present.
Other treatments for mold allergy include:
- Immunotherapy. This treatment — a series of allergy shots — can be very effective for some allergies, such as hay fever. Allergy shots are used for only certain types of mold allergy.
- Nasal lavage. To help with irritating nasal symptoms, your doctor may recommend that you rinse your nose daily with salt water. Use a specially designed squeeze bottle, such as the one included in saline kits (Sinus Rinse, others), bulb syringe or neti pot to irrigate your nasal passages. This home remedy, called nasal lavage, can help keep your nose free of irritants. Use water that's distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller to make up the irrigation solution. Also be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with similarly distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air-dry.