If you or your child has cold symptoms that just won’t quit, it may not be a cold at all. It may be mold. Did you know that allergies can peak in the summer and cause cold-like symptoms all year long. Molds thrive in dark, damp environments, both inside and out. Indoors, molds grow in humid places like bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms. Molds can grow outside in compost piles and on grass and garden clippings, among other places.

The allergy isn’t actually to the mold, but to the seeds or spores of the mold. These tiny particles travel through the air where they can be inhaled and cause irritation. A child will probably have an itchy, runny, congested nose and sneezing. Mold spores can also irritate the lungs, causing asthma symptoms to flare up in children who have asthma.

Inside the house, try to reduce the humidity as much as possible. Central air conditioning is best, particularly if you install a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. In the bathroom, install a fan or open the window after steamy baths and showers. Avoid carpeting in bathrooms and laundry rooms, and repair any plumbing leaks as quickly as possible. Scrubbing shower stalls with a solution of one ounce of bleach per quart of water at least once a month will also help. If you have an old, moldy tub, consider replacing it with a tub liner. It can be done in a day, and will not mold!