Aspergillus is a common type of fungi found all over the world. Several species of Aspergillus can cause human respiratory disease, but infection is highly unusual except in people with a chronic lung disease, compromised immunity due to HIV infection and AIDS, or prolonged chemotherapy or steroid usage.
In people with inadequate immunity, Aspergillus can spread to other organs such as the eye, sinuses, and brain. It is a serious condition that requires treatment.
Another form of aspergillosis affects people with asthma. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is one of dozens of allergic reactions to environmental agents like sawdust, spores, and other airborne particles.
Inhaling fungus spores causes Aspergillus.
The following factors increase your chances of developing Aspergillus. If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor:
- Compromised immunity
- Drugs that accompany an organ transplant
- Certain cancer treatments
- Long-term, high-dose cortisone-like drugs
- Poorly functioning or too few white blood cells (neutropenia)
- Chronic lung disease
If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to aspergillosis. These symptoms may be caused by many other health conditions, both more and less serious. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
- Chronic productive cough
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. You may be referred to a specialist in lung diseases (a pulmonologist) or infectious diseases.
Tests may include the following :
- Blood and urine samples
- Sputum samples
- Chest x-ray, CT, or MRI studies
- Bronchoscopy (looking into your lungs with a special thin “telescope”)
There is a reason why you have this disease. The underlying disease must be treated along with the Aspergillus if progress is to be made. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options for this condition include:
Intravenous amphotericin B
This medication is given for at least 10 weeks. It is a powerful medicine that often damages the kidneys.
This medication has been found to be highly effective for invasive aspergillosis. It may also be a preferred treatment option for many individuals.
This oral medication is effective in some cases.
Part of your lung may need to be removed if it contains a large mass of fungus.
Prevention is not an issue with Aspergillus. Healthy individuals have no problem with it, even though the fungus is everywhere. Those with chronic diseases or compromised immunity may also be exposed to it.