AUSTIN (KXAN) - Though it's not thought to be an all-time record, none of the First Warning Weather Team can remember a mold count higher than Wednesday's.
Researchers at Allergy & Asthma Associates counted 27,262 mold spores per cubic meter of air this afternoon. They say they can't recall a higher count, though they believe the record is higher, but set many years ago.
With five consecutive days of rain in Central Texas, mold spores have been multiplying by the thousands. The moisture and summer heat provide an ideal environment for mold growth. For summer allergy sufferers, this can be very uncomfortable.
Itchy eyes, congestion and runny noses are common allergy symptoms. Allergy and Asthma Associates in Northwest Austin are seeing more and more patients complaining of symptoms that just aren't going away.
"People who get recurrent sinus infections because they're predisposed by allergies, we see that a lot," said Dr. Doug Barstow with Allergy and Asthma Associates. "They can interrupt your days at work. They cause you not to sleep at night. They can cause you to miss days at work, days at school. They really can result in very big lifestyle changes."
This is a big change from 2011 when record drought conditions kept the humidity down.
Mold needs a moist environment to thrive. It grows on just about everything. You see it on food, in bathrooms and in basements. But, it also grows on the grass, trees and flowers in your yard.
"Their job in nature is to break all those things down and reintegrate them into the soil," said Barstow. "So molds can grow just about anywhere if they have enough moisture. Both molds indoors and outdoors can cause significant mold allergy problems."
Barstow said when allergy symptoms don't improve or lead to reoccurring sinus infections, it's time to make an appointment to see a physician. When over-the-counter medications or doctor's prescriptions don't work, allergy shots are the next option.
"As long as we are seeing warm, wet weather, we'll see high mold counts and that's going to continue," said Barstow. "When the weather starts to cool off, as the humidity drops down, then we typically see the mold counts go down."
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