What is fungal pneumonia?
Fungal pneumonia is an infection in the lungs caused by one or more diseased or opportunistic fungi. Fungal infection occurs following the inhalation of spores, after the inhalation of conidia, or by the reactivation of a latent infection.
Diagnosing fungal pneumonia is difficult and the diagnosis is often made on a presumptive basis. It relies on a combination of clinical, radiologic, and microbiological factors.
The individual prognosis is often related to the severity and outcome of the underlying disease and to whether a reversal of factors affecting the patient’s immune status is possible.
How common is fungal pneumonia?
This health condition is not really common. It commonly affects more males than females. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of fungal pneumonia?
The common symptoms of fungal pneumonia are
- Dry cough
- Chest discomfort
- Shortness of breath, particularly on exertion
- Coughs up blood
- Abnormal enlargement of the lymph nodes and obstruction of large airways
- Infections with Aspergillusand Candida spp.
Symptoms due to other sites of extra pulmonary involvement (particularly in the immune-compromised) – e.g., meningoencephalitis/brain abscess, skin lesions, kidneys, liver, muscles, endophthalmitis, nasal passages and sinuses, systemic sepsis affecting blood and bone marrow.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes fungal pneumonia?
Specific instances of fungal infections that can manifest with pulmonary involvement include:
- Histoplasmosis – infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus
- Coccidioidomycosis – infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus (also called “Valley fever” or “San Joaquin fever”)
- Pulmonary blastomycosis
- Pneumocystis pneumonia, which typically occurs in immune-compromised people, especially AIDS
- Sporotrichosis . It is primarily a lymphocutaneous disease, but can involve the lungs as well
- Cryptococcosis . This fungal contracted through inhalation of soil contaminated with the yeast, it can manifest as a pulmonary infection and as a disseminated one
- It will cause invasive pulmonary aspergillosis
- Rarely, candidiasis has pulmonary manifestations in immune-compromised patients.
- Pulmonary scedosporiosis. This fungal which is caused by Allescheria boydii is also a very rare fungal involvement of the lungs
What increases my risk for fungal pneumonia?
There are many risk factors for fungal pneumonia, such as:
- Acute leukemia or lymphoma during myeloablative chemotherapy
- Bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation
- Solid organ transplantation on immunosuppressive treatment
- Prolonged corticosteroid therapy
- Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
- Prolonged neutropenia from various causes
- Congenital immune deficiency syndromes
- Postsplenectomy state
- Genetic predisposition
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is fungal pneumonia diagnosed?
Fungal pneumonia can be diagnosed in a number of ways. The simplest and cheapest method is to culture the fungus from a patient’s respiratory fluids. However, such tests are not only insensitive but take time to develop which is a major drawback because studies have shown that slow diagnosis of fungal pneumonia is linked to high mortality.
Microscopy is another method but is also slow and imprecise. Supplementing these classical methods is the detection of antigens. This technique is significantly faster but can be less sensitive and specific than the classical methods.
A molecular test based on quantitative PCR is also available from Myconostica. Relying on DNA detection, this is the most sensitive and specific test available for fungi but it is limited to detecting only pneumocystis jirovecii and aspergillus.
How is fungal pneumonia treated?
Therapy for fungal pneumonia must include antifungal agents. The type of antifungal drug which is chosen must be selected based on the particular isolated or clinically suspected pathogen
Many classes of antifungal agents are now available, including the classic antibiotics; first-, second-, and third-generation triazoles; and the echinocandins. Amphotericin B is less frequently used and, when used, is often given as a liposomal formulation to decrease toxicity.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage fungal pneumonia?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with fungal pneumonia:
- HIV patients are daily treated with prophylactic antifungal drugs to try to avoid infection with opportunistic fungal pathogens, particularly Cryptococcus neoformans.
- Transplant patients may also benefit from prophylactic antifungal agents.
- Fluconazole has shown some benefits as prophylaxis against invasive fungal infections in transplant patients.
- Patients likely to have prolonged neutropenia should avoid activities that increase exposure to environmental fungal spores, such as gardening or working with potted plants and fresh flowers, cleaning, building work and handling uncooked vegetables.
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.
Fungal lung infections. http://patient.info/doctor/fungal-lung-infections. Accessed 12 Mar 2017.
Fungal Pneumonia Overview of Fungal Pneumonia. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/300341-overview. Accessed 12 Mar 2017.
Review Date: March 12, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019