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Asthma Due to Fungi

Studies show that fungal exposure is a significant causative agent of asthma.

Where one should look for presence of fungus growth?  

Inside house:

  • Damp walls
  • Damp places such as bathrooms, basement
  • Refrigerator
  • Furniture
  • Shoes, leather belts
  • Paper, old newspaper
  • Bread, potato, red chilli

Outside house:

  • Piles of leaves
  • Cow-buffalo dung
  • All organic material
  • Wood

How does fungus trigger asthma?

Fungi release tiny seeds called spores into the air, which can trigger asthma symptoms in some people. These spores are found in any damp place – from piles of fallen tree leaves and woody areas, bathrooms, kitchens, damp leather articles and even piles of damp clothes.

For people sensitive to fungi, inhaling fungi spores can cause an asthma attack leading from moderate to severe. Indoor fungal exposure also contributes to asthma severity. Many patients complain that their asthma is aggravated by damp housing, especially if there is visible fungi growth. Fungi can be found almost anywhere; they grow on virtually any substance when moisture is present.


What are the symptoms?

Allergic reactions to fungus can range from mild to severe and from transitory to chronic. Symptoms differ from person to person depending on the type of fungi and the resistance power of the person. However some of the common characteristics of asthma due to fungal allergens include:

  • Chest tightness
  • Wheezing
  • Recurrent symptoms of fever and the presence of pulmonary infiltrates
  • Fatigue
  • Cough, sneezing, itching
  • Nasal discharge
  • Dyspnea that worsens with exposure to the allergen

Symptoms typically occur within an hour of exposure. This type of asthma occurence is more common in farmers, bakers, dairymen, carpenters, and mushroom growers who are exposed to high levels of fungus.


Treatment:

Fungi related asthma cannot be cured. But the symptoms of the allergy can be reduced by avoiding contact with the spores. Several preventive measures and a bit of alertness on behalf of the person will help.

Most asthma patients of this kind have mild symptoms which are well controlled with anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator therapy; but a minority of asthma patients land up with life threatening severe airway inflammation and airflow obstruction requiring hospital admissions.

Medications should always be taken on the advise of a medical practitioner.


What actions should one take to prevent fungus related asthma attacks?

If fungi is a problem in your home, you need to clean it up and eliminate sources of moisture. There is no practical way to eliminate all fungus indoors; the way to control indoor fungi growth is to control moisture.

  • Ensure the house is well ventilated.
  • Avoid areas (such as gardens or compost) that may contain fungi spores.
  • Wash the fungus off hard surfaces with soap and water; and dry completely. Moisture absorbent materials may need to be replaced if they are contaminated with fungus.
  • Fix up leaking or blocked taps, pipes and other sources of water.
  • Keep your air conditioner, refrigerator clean and dry.
  • Use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms when showering, cooking.
  • Expel clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity. Fungus grows on damp things such as shower curtains, bath items, tubs, basins, damp clothes, shoes.
  • Remember to dry leather articles well in humid season, especially belts, jackets, shoes.
  • Check fungus growth in the water cooler & air conditioners and remove it by using fungal killers.
  • Indoor plants should be avoided.
  • Use air conditioning with a high efficiency particulate air filter attachment. It will help trap spores before they enter the house.
  • Fungicides may be added to paint, primer or wallpaper paste to slow fungus growth on treated areas.
  • Clean garbage pails frequently.
  • Polyurethane and rubber foams are especially prone to fungus invasion. If bedding is made ith these foams, it should be covered in plastic.
  • Throw away old books, newspapers, clothing or bedding.
  • Completely shaded homes dry slowly, and surrounding dense bushes and other plants often promote dampness. In the winter, condensation on cold walls encourage fungal growth. Take care of all this.

If you think you have a fungi related asthma problem and can see fungi growth in your house and around, simply clean the fungus from the surface it's growing on and dry the surface thoroughly. That’s the only way you can prevent a visit to the doctor.