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Don't Let Mold Put Your Life on Hold

Simple precautions can protect those allergic to spores

SATURDAY, April 26, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Rainy days may get some people down, but if you're among the many who are allergic to mold, wet or humid weather can compound your misery.

Mold are fungi that come in a variety of species and live both indoors and outdoors in dark, damp or wet places. The real culprits are mold spores -- tiny bacteria produced by mold that become airborne or water-borne. As many as 250,000 spores could fit on the head of a pin. In heavily contaminated areas, a person might breathe in as many as 750,000 spores per minute, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you're mildly allergic to molds, symptoms can include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation or wheezing. Among those who are more seriously allergic, however, symptoms can include fever and shortness of breath.

Prolonged exposure to mold in certain occupational settings, such as farms, is a particular concern. Farm workers continuously exposed to moldy hay, for instance, can develop a condition called Farmer's Lung, which causes fatigue, a chronic cough and other symptoms, says the CDC.

If you find you are sensitive to mold, experts advise avoiding places outside that might have high levels of mold, such as wooded areas, compost piles, hay bales or cut grass.

Indoors, you can take steps to decrease mold exposure by keeping humidity levels below 40 percent. Ventilate showers and cooking areas, and try using a bleach solution of one cup of bleach in one gallon of water to clean areas where there may be mold growth.

More information

Visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology for more information on mold allergies.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
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