Aspergillosis

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Pronounced: ASS-per-jill-OH-sis

by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD

En Español (Spanish Version)

* Definition  

Aspergillus is a common type of fungus. It is found all over the world. Aspergillosis is an infection causes by this fungus. It can cause severe problems in the lung.

This type of infection is rare. It is more common in people with:

Most of these condition weaken the immune system. The body is less able to fight off infections.

In these cases, the fungus can spread to other organs. This can include the eye, sinuses, and brain. It is a serious condition that requires treatment.

Another form of aspergillosis affects people with asthma :

* Causes  

Inhaling fungus spores causes can be the first step to aspergillosis.

Inhalation of Spores

  Spores in lungs

© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

* Risk Factors  

The following factors increase your chance of developing Aspergillus :

Asthma in Lungs

  Asthma lung

© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

* Symptoms  

If you experience any of these, do not assume it is due to aspergillosis. These symptoms may be caused by many other health conditions. They may be more or less serious. See your doctor if you experience any one of these:

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

* Diagnosis  

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a specialist in lung diseases or infectious diseases. A pulmonologist focuses on the lungs.

Tests may include the following:

* Treatment  

There is a reason why you have this disease. The underlying disease must be treated along with the Aspergillus . Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options for this condition include:

Medication  
  • Intravenous Amphotericin B—given for a prolonged period of time; may damage the kidneys
  • Voriconazole —found to be highly effective for invasive aspergillosis and a preferred treatment option for many
  • Itraconazole —effective in some cases
Surgery  

Part of your lung may need to be removed if it contains a large mass of fungus.

* Prevention  

Aspergillus is everywhere. This makes it impossible to avoid it. The best step is to avoid the conditions that are associated with it.

Last reviewed January 2009 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Copyright © 2009 EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.

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