Know the basics
What is cryptococcosis?
Cryptococcosis is a disease caused by breathing a fungus named Cryptococcus neoformans. Healthy people rarely have this disease but it’s more serious for people with disorders of the immune system, don’t have the ability of fighting against this fungus’s infection.
How common is cryptococcosis?
C. neoformansin fections are extremely rare in people who are otherwise healthy. Most cases of C. neoformans infection occur in people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those who have advanced HIV/AIDS. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of cryptococcosis?
Healthy person would not appear any symptoms when infected with this fungus. The infection may spread to the brain in people who have a weakened immune system. Neurological (brain) symptoms start slowly. Most people with this infection have swelling and irritation of the brain and spinal cord when they are diagnosed.
Other symptoms include:
- Blurred vision or double vision
- Bone pain or tenderness of the breastbone
- Chest pain
- Cough — dry
- Skin rash, including pinpoint red spots (petechiae), ulcers, or other skin lesions
- Sweating — unusual, excessive at night
- Swollen glands
- Unintentional weight loss
There may be some signs or 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.
Know the causes
What causes cryptococcosis?
Cryptococcus neoformans is the fungus that causes this disease. It is usually found in soil. If you breathe it in, it infects your lungs. The infection may go away on its own, remain in the lungs only, or spread throughout the body (disseminate).
This infection is most often seen in people with a weakened immune system. Cryptococcus is the most common life-threatening fungal infection in people with AIDS.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for cryptococcosis?
This infection is most often seen in people with a weakened immune system, such as those who:
- Are infected with HIV;
- Take high doses of corticosteroid medications;
- Are on chemotherapy drugs for cancer;
- Have Hodgkin’s disease.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is cryptococcosis diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose Cryptococcus by physical examination and other tests include:
- Blood culture;
- CT scan of the head;
- Sputum culture and stain;
- Lung biopsy;
- Spinal tap to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF);
- Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture and other tests to check for signs of infection;
- Chest x-ray;
- Cryptococcal antigen test (looks for a certain molecule that the Cryptococcus neoformans fungus can shed into the blood).
How is cryptococcosis treated?
Some infections require no treatment. Even so, there should be regular check-ups for a full year to make sure the infection has not spread. If there are lung lesions or the disease spreads, antifungal medications are prescribed. These drugs may need to be taken for a long time.
- Amphotericin B;
Amphotericin B can have severe side effects.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage cryptococcosis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Cryptococcosis:
- Avoid contact with polluted areas especially if you have a weak immune system.
- Rest until fever and cough improve.
- Take acetaminophen for minor pain and fever.
- Drink enough and eat a good diet. Try small frequent meals if nausea is a problem.
- Keep follow-up doctor appointments, to recurrence of the disease.
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.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: December 10, 2019
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012.
Porter, R. S., Kaplan, J. L., Homeier, B. P., & Albert, R. K. (2009). The Merck manual home health handbook. Whitehouse Station, NJ, Merck Research Laboratories. Print edition. Page 1233
Cryptococcosis Neoformans. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001328.htm. Accessed August 12, 2016.
Cryptococcosis Neoformans. http://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/cryptococcosis-neoformans/definition.html. Accessed August 12, 2016.