Researchers used data from 1,132 people with asthma from the European Community respiratory health survey to access whether the severity of asthma is associated with sensitisation to airborne moulds rather than to other allergens, such as pollens and cats.
Sensitisation to moulds was significantly associated with severity of asthma, but the team found no association between severity of asthma and sensitisation to pollens or cats.
The small size of fungal spores may allow them to reach the lower airways, suggest the authors. Unlike pollens, moulds are also present through the year with increase in the spore counts during the autumn months. Furthermore, the level of mould exposure is probably greater because the exposure occurs indoors rather than outdoors and people spend most of their time indoors.
Those people with asthma who are sensitised to airborne moulds should be educated to pay careful attention to symptoms and comply with treatment, particularly during the seasonal increase in mould spore counts, say the authors.
Patients should also be encouraged to decrease exposure by avoiding indoor conditions that facilitate the growth of moulds - for example, by better ventilation and by decreasing dampness, they conclude.