Pronounced: ASS-per-jill-OH-sisEn Español (Spanish Version)
Aspergillus is a common type of fungus 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 .
Inhalation of Spores
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A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of developing Aspergillus . If you have any of these risk factors, tell your doctor:
- 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
Asthma in Lungs
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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:
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 a prolonged period of time. It is a powerful medicine that may damage the kidneys.
- Voriconazole—This medication has been found to be highly effective for invasive aspergillosis. It may also be a preferred treatment option for many individuals.
- Itraconazole—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.
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
The Aspergillus Website
Canadian HIV/AIDS Information Centre
The Canadian Lung Association
Aspergillosis. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamicmedical.com/dynamed.nsf?opendatabase . Accessed October 4, 2005.
Beers MH, Berkow R, eds. The Merck Manual . 17th ed. West Point, PA: Merck & Co;1999.
Bennett JE. Aspergillosis. In: Kasper DL, et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine . 16th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2005:1188-1190.
Mandell GL, Bennet JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practices of Infectious Diseases . 6th ed. 2005.
Last reviewed January 2008 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.
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