Definition

What is Aspergillosis?

Aspergillosis is a group of infections caused by the fungus (mold) named Aspergillus. Species such as Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, and Aspergillus niger live in soil, decaying plant matter, dust, building materials, and dead leaves. Spores (reproductive parts of mold) thrive in air-conditioning and heating ducts, carpeting, insulation, certain plants, tap water, dust, and foods.

 How common is Aspergillosis?

Someone with a weakened immune system is at greater risk of being more severely affected.

Signs & symptoms

What are some signs and symptoms of Aspergillosis?

Symptoms depend on the type of infection. They include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, chills, coughing up bloody mucus, poor appetite, and weight loss. Chest pain can be made worse with coughing or taking deep breaths. Infection of other organs may lead to headache, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. Strokes (from bleeding in the brain), abscesses (pockets of pus), bone pain, heart valve infections, and stomach and intestinal bleeding are others.

There may be some signs ro symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptoms, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

 When should I see my doctor?

If you have asthma or cystic fibrosis, see your doctor whenever you notice a change in your symptoms. Although aspergillosis may not be the cause, it’s important to have problems evaluated.

If you have a weakened immune system and develop an unexplained fever, shortness of breath or a cough that brings up blood, get immediate medical care. In the case of invasive aspergillosis, prompt treatment is crucial, and treatment is sometimes started before the infection is diagnosed.

Causes

What causes Aspergillosis?

The fungus can cause illness as an allergic reaction (allergic aspergillosis and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, or ABPA) in people with an asthmatic lung condition. It can cause “fungus balls” (aspergillomas) in lungs already damaged by another condition (e.g., scarring caused by tuberculosis or emphysema). People with weak immune (infection-fighting) systems because of another disease (e.g., HIV) or drugs (e.g., corticosteroids) can more easily be affected (invasive aspergillosis). The infection can spread from lungs to other organs.

What can trigger or worsen Aspergillosis?

  • Ignore the symptoms. Report any fever to your doctor, especially if you take medicines to suppress your immune system.
  • Forget that treatment of ABPA and aspergillomas is usually done outside the hospital. Invasive aspergillosis can be much more dangerous.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Aspergillosis?

Low white blood cell counts, cystic fibrosis, hospital stays, and genetics can also mean higher risks of getting aspergillosis.

Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist.

What are my treatment options for Aspergillosis?

Treatment varies with the type of aspergillosis. People with ABPA can take a corticosteroid called prednisone or antifungal drugs until the chest X-ray improves. The best treatment of fungus balls is unknown. They may get better without treatment or may need treatment with antifungal drugs. Doctors may simply monitor people without symptoms (watchful waiting). People who cough up a lot of blood usually need surgery. Intravenous antifungal drugs are commonly used in people with invasive aspergillosis.

What are the most common test for Aspergillosis?

After obtaining a detailed history and performing a physical examination, the doctor makes a diagnosis by using blood tests, chest X-ray, skin tests, and sputum cultures. The doctor may want additional tests such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bronchoscopy, or lung biopsy. In bronchoscopy, the doctor uses a small lighted tube to look inside the lungs and take samples. In a biopsy, the doctor takes a piece of lung tissue to be examined with a microscope.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies help manage Aspergillosis?

  • Expect treatment to take a long time, from 3 to 6 months for ABPA, for example. Some antifungal drugs are given for 4 to 6 months and then tapered over the next 4 to 6 months.
  • Ask to see a pulmonologist (specialist in lung diseases) or infectious disease specialist.
  • Realize that your underlying disease and immune system affect prognosis.
  • Call your doctor if you cough up blood or have chest pain, fever, chills, or sweating with a productive cough.
  • Be careful when taking immune-suppressing drugs.
  • Stay away from places of possible exposure to the mold.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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