Protect your respiratory health during the fungal spores season

In Puerto Rico, the months of February and March and September through November, are considered high risk for people with allergies and respiratory conditions. This is because the levels of allergens such as fungi, and pollens in the outdoor air increase (PR fungal spore season).  These fungal spores can trigger respiratory complications in sensitive individuals. In addition, levels of fungal spores are higher at night.

First of all, what are spores?

Fungal spores increase during the rainy season. They are released from fruiting bodies growing on soil and dead trees. The fungal spores are allergens like pollen, animal dander, insect parts, and some chemicals. Irritants such as smoke, dust, gas or diesel fumes, and chlorine can trigger or exacerbate an asthma attack in individuals with increased airway hyperresponsiveness.

How can we be informed about the level of spores in the environment?

Download the TOTAAL App (Android version is available in Google Play) to stay informed about spore levels in San Juan and Caguas.

Here are some tips to help you to control your asthma and allergies during the fungal spores season:

  • Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter during nighttime.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed at night.
  • Keep your asthma action plan up to date.
  • Avoid going outdoors after a rain episode.
  • Always keep your emergency medicines at hand.

How do spores affect asthma?

Fungal spores are microscopic particles suspended in the air that are inhaled and can reach the lower lung and trigger asthma.

The best way to avoid them is to take preventive measures such as:

  • Visit your primary care physician for an evaluation and preparation of a preventive action plan.
  • Use treatment medications as prescribed by your physician.
  • Reduce the exposure to the fungal spores by using an air purifier with HEPA filter while sleeping as the levels of fungal spores are higher at night. 

Learn more about Characterizing environmental asthma triggers and healthcare use patterns in Puerto Rico from the Journal of Asthma.

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*This blog post was written in collaboration between Olga M. Colon, Senior Pharmacist, Formulary Development at Abarca, and Benjamin Bolaños, Ph.D., Associate Professor Department of Microbiology Medical Sciences Campus at the University of Puerto Rico. The University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus is one of the beneficiaries chosen to receive support from Abarca’s Better Care Community Program.  

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