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Allergy sufferer Fred Bessett goes to the Allergy Ear, Nose and Throat Center for an allergy injection by Dr. Dale Smith once a week.

Ah-choo's being heard all over Southwest Oklahoma

Heavy rain has flooded Southwest Oklahoma with more than just water. Allergen and mold levels have been on the rise due to plenty of moisture and favorable growing conditions.

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen or pet dander, that most people do not have a reaction to, according to the Mayo Clinic. With the increase in moisture, the growing season for many allergens and mold has expanded compared to past years.

"When the barometric pressure drops, the mold understands that a front is coming and will spore ahead of the rain," said Dr. Dale Smith, an otolarynologist (a head and neck surgeon) with the Allergy Ear, Nose and Throat Institute. Smith said that he has seen an increase in mold and allergy cases since the rain has picked up.

Under specific conditions, people who do not have a predisposition to a mold allergy can become sensitive to mold, which could lead to a serious, even life-threatening problem.

"People who have cars or houses flooded may develop toxigenic mold," Smith said. "Mold can cause sickness when it becomes concentrated in an indoor environment." Toxigenic mold can cause severe illness, and if not detected, can lead to death.

The Lawton Constitution

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