Does Damp, Humid Weather Make Your Allergies Worse?

September 1, 2010
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

px234s009Molds, on foods and hidden away in homes, may be to blame.

Are you coughing and wheezy with irritated eyes, a stuffy nose, and trouble breathing? Certainly, there’s plenty of ragweed around to cause trouble this time of year. But if you suffer these symptoms year-round—or if they flare up more in damp weather—you may be allergic to molds.

We’re all exposed to mold spores, fungi that break down organic matter in dirt, food, leaves, and wood. Global climate change is only increasing our exposure, reports the journal Allergy. No wonder that Canadian research in the Journal of Asthma finds that mold and moisture in homes are frequent causes of asthma.

With respiratory mold allergies, your immune system overreacts when you breathe in mold spores, triggering allergic rhinitis or asthma. Molds can also create volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—causing a musty odor that irritates eyes, nose, and throat. You can’t smell all molds, however.

One airborne fungus (Cryptococcus gattii), which is causing severe (and sometimes fatal) infections in the Pacific Northwest, can take six to seven months to produce symptoms, including a stiff neck. Black mold (a slow growing fungus on cotton, paper, and wood) has been linked to serious lung problems in babies. “Infants, small children, and elderly adults are more likely to react to any type of mold,” says David Lang, MD, head of allergy/immunology at the Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

For anyone allergic to molds, reducing exposure is a critical first step.

Inventory your home carefully for moisture, particularly in the basement, bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry. Mold grows easily in the water tray in self-defrosting refrigerators and on gaskets in their doors, as well as grouting between tiles and around sinks, tubs, and walls.

Reduce indoor humidity by venting bathrooms and kitchens. Also use air conditioners and dehumidifiers, changing the filters regularly.

Fix leaky plumbing; check crawl spaces and behind dry wall for mold. Use a moisture meter to test suspicious areas. Interestingly, a dust sample from your carpet can indicate if you’re harboring mold spores.

You may need professional help in the form of a certified mold remediator like Larry Gust,, whom I can personally recommend. For other ways to keep your home as environmentally safe as possible, visit

Once your home is cleaned up, keep it that way with the Healthway Air Purifier. To learn more about how I keep the air in my home as pure as possible, call UNI KEY at 800-888-4353.

Avoid Moldy Foods
Always discard any moldy foods. Fungi on corn, grains, legumes, and aflatoxins on peanuts can not only cause allergies and asthma but have also been linked to cancer. Unfortunately, the USDA and state agriculture departments have trouble detecting molds on these foods, and the mycotoxins they produce cannot be killed by high cooking temperature.

Barley and other gluten-containing grains (like rye and wheat), beer, cheese, corn, mushrooms, soy sauce and tamari, vinegar (except for apple cider), and wine are dietary sources of molds and yeasts that are best avoided by anyone with allergies.

Foods like melons that lie on the ground commonly harbor molds, so soak them in Dr. Parcell’s clorox bath (1/4 tsp clorox bleach to 32 oz water) for 30 minutes, before bathing in clean water for 10 minutes, rinsing, and drying thoroughly before you cut into these fruits. Wooden cutting boards and spoons also harbor molds, so use this same solution on them as well.

The Sunshine Vitamin Helps
A new cell study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has linked low levels of vitamin D in the body with allergies to a common mold, Aspergillus fumigatus. “We found that adding vitamin D not only substantially reduced the production of the protein driving an allergic response, but it also increased production of the proteins that promote tolerance,” says lead researcher Jay Kolls, MD, at Louisiana State University Health Science Center.

“Our study provides further evidence that vitamin D appears to be broadly associated with human health,” he adds. I couldn’t agree more!

If you live in the northern states or wear sunscreen, ask your doctor for a Vitamin D blood test. Blood levels between 50 and 80 ng/ml of D are ideal. All too many people are not absorbing the “sunshine vitamin,” which is why I’ve increased vitamin D in Female Multiple and Male Multiple.

To prevent deficits, though, I recommend 5,000 IUs of vitamin D daily for adults—so you may need more of the sunshine vitamin than a multi offers. A vegetarian supplement, D-5000 contains only vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which recent studies show is most effective.

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


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