Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis

Pronounced: ASS-per-jill-OH-sis

Definition

Aspergillosis is an infection caused by a specific fungus. It can lead to severe lung problems.

Causes

The fungus can be found all over the world. Spores of the fungus can be released into the air. It is then inhaled into the lungs. The immune system can get rid of the fungus in most people. Aspergillosis will occur if the immune system is not working properly. The fungus is able to grow and cause an infection.

Inhalation of Spores

Spores in lungs
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Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chances of aspergillosis:

Asthma in Lungs

Asthma lung
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Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Chronic, productive cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. An infection will be suspected based on symptoms. Blood, urine, and coughed up fluids may also be tested. They can help to find the cause of the infection. The results will help to guide treatment.

The doctor may also need to see how much of the lung is involved. Tests may include one :

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include:

  • Medications to treat the fungal infection
  • Surgery—to remove a large mass of fungus, not always needed

Prevention

The fungus that causes this condition is everywhere. It is common in soil or compost. The fungus can also be found in mildew in bathrooms or other moist areas of home. If you are at risk for getting an aspergillosis infection, try to:

  • Avoid close contact with soil or compost.
  • Avoid construction and renovation sites.
  • Take steps to keep your home mildew-free.

Long-term antifungal medicine may be given to those with a very high risk for infections.

RESOURCES:

American Lung Association
http://www.lung.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Lung Association
https://www.lung.ca

References:

Invasive aspergillosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated May 4, 2018. Accessed September 6, 2019.
Sherif R, Segal BH. Pulmonary aspergillosis: clinical presentation, diagnostic tests, management and complications. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2010;16(3):242-250.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 9/6/2019

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