Are Penicillium Mold Allergy, Penicillin Allergy and Food Allergies Interconnected?
Airborne mold fungus spores are one of the most common causes of allergic reactions leading to nasal congestion or runny nose, itchy eyes and coughing. There are various types of molds that trigger allergies. For instance, Penicillium, which is the most common indoor mold, may cause allergic rhinitis and asthma in some people. Those who have a penicillium mold allergy may wonder if they are also allergic to penicillin and certain foods like blue cheese or mushrooms.
Allergy to Penicillium Mold and Antibiotic Penicillin
Penicillin is one of the most commonly used antibiotics that was originally extracted from Penicillium mold. However, people who are allergic to this specific type of mold are not any more likely to react to penicillin-based medications than people with any other allergies. This is because nowadays, penicillin antibiotics are developed synthetically, which means they are not contaminated with mold spores.
Yet, people are more prone to having an allergic reaction to penicillin, if they or someone in their family are allergic to drugs, if they also allergic to another drug or to any other trigger, if they experience prolonged exposure to penicillin drug, or if they have an infection (e.g. HIV or human immunodeficiency) or Epstein Bar virus.
What’s the Connection Between Mold Allergies and Food Allergies?
Unlike penicillin drugs, some penicillium-containing foods may cause allergies in people with a mold allergy.
Thus, penicillium mold particles are contained in various types of cheeses including Roquefort or Camembert. If you have an allergy to Penicillium, you may experience a reaction if you eat such cheeses. In addition, consumption of foods like mushrooms and yeast may also trigger allergy symptoms in people with a mold allergy. For instance, there have been several cases when mold-allergic individuals developed oral allergy syndrome (OAS) after eating raw mushrooms.
The potential link between mold allergy and allergy to mushrooms or yeast is associated with a phenomenon known as cross-reactivity in allergic reactions. According to the definition of cross-reactivity, it occurs when two different substances, e.g. some specific types of mold and certain foods, share similar allergenic proteins. This means that having a mold allergy increases your risk for reaction to foods containing mold proteins, such as mushrooms.
In addition, experts suggest that cross-reactivity also happens between various pollens and raw fruits and vegetables, as well as latex and certain foods, such fruits (e.g. avocado) and nuts. The cross-reactivity between latex and food allergens is known as “the latex-food syndrome”.
The Bottom Line
If you have a mold allergy, you can safely take penicillin antibiotics; however, you still may develop food allergies to mushrooms or yeast. Although you may be allergic to both Penicillium mold and penicillin drug, but these two allergic disorders are not interconnected. What does put you at a higher risk of developing an allergy to penicillin is having any other type of allergy, especially to other medicines.