Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA)

Definition

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is an allergic lung disorder. It is related to a fungus. Aspergillosis can also occur as:
  • A lung infection that can spread to other parts of the body, which is more common in patients with suppressed immune systems
  • A fungal growth in a lung cavity that has healed from a previous lung disease or infection

Causes

ABPA is caused by an allergic reaction to an inhaled fungus. It grows and flourishes in decaying vegetation, soil, certain foods, dust, and water. The inhaled fungus colonizes mucus in the lungs, causing:
  • Sensitization to the fungus
  • Recurring allergic inflammation of the lungs
  • Packing of the tiny alveoli air sacs in the lungs with a type of white blood cell involved in certain allergic reactions and infections with parasites
Healthy Alveoli
Alveoli
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Risk Factors

Risk factors that increase your chances of getting ABPA include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of ABPA are usually those of progressive asthma. These include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Weakness
  • Chest pain
As ABPA progresses, other symptoms may occur, including:
  • Production of thick, brownish, and/or bloody sputum
  • Mild fever
  • Unintended weight loss

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
  • Sputum tests
  • Blood tests
  • Skin prick tests
  • Biopsy of lung or sinus tissue
Your lungs may be tested. This can be done with pulmonary function tests (PFTs) . ABPA can appear quite similar to non-ABPA induced asthma. ABPA is typically diagnosed after several repeat tests for ABPA are positive over a number of months or years.

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