Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that most commonly develops in the lungs of those with weakened immune systems. Aspergillosis is a type of fungal infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mold that lives everywhere in nature.Most of the time, Aspergillus is harmless. In fact, most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick. However,
Aspergillosis is a type of fungal infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mold that lives everywhere in nature.
Most of the time, Aspergillus is harmless. In fact, most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick. However, people with weakened immune systems may develop serious disease from Aspergillus infection.
This article discusses the symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis, and treatment for aspergillosis.
Symptoms of aspergillosis depend on the organ system that is affected. This includes:
Aspergillus can disseminate to almost any organ in the body—including the kidneys and brain—but the lungs are the most commonly affected organ.
Aspergillus infection can cause problems acutely and chronically. For example:
Aspergillus is relatively harmless to most people and does not cause symptoms in a person with a healthy immune system.
Aspergillosis is only caused by the aspergillus fungus.
Aspergillus is found naturally in nature—growing on dead leaves, stored grain, compost piles, in other decaying vegetation, and even on marijuana leaves—so humans routinely come into contact with these molds.
There are several forms of aspergillosis. The three most common types are:
Aspergillosis mimics many other respiratory conditions like asthma, sinusitis, and seasonal allergies so healthcare providers need to be on the lookout for it, especially in older populations and those with weakened immune systems.
When diagnosing aspergillosis, your healthcare provider will want to consider your risk factors and medical history in conjunction with your symptoms and a physical exam.
An official diagnosis is usually made after ordering lab tests, including:
Sometimes a nodule or mass can be spotted on imaging, making the diagnosis much easier, other times a nondescript mass can be found in the lungs requiring biopsy and further testing.
Still, there are times when nothing appears on imaging, prompting your provider to be on the lookout for aspergillosis in other parts of the body especially if you are at high risk for infection.
Antifungal drugs are the standard treatment for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, the most common type of aspergillosis infection.
Vfend (voriconazole) is the treatment of choice but isavuconazole and posaconazole have similar efficacy with less toxicity. Amphotericin B is another option if antifungals are not effective.
Combination therapy is used with extensive infection and in severe immunosuppression. All antifungal drugs can have serious side effects, including kidney and liver damage.
Of note, treating any underlying conditions, especially those that weaken the immune system, may increase the effectiveness of your antifungal treatment.
If you are infected with aspergillosis and are in generally good health, your outlook is pretty good.
If your infection becomes invasive and disseminates throughout the body—a sign of severe infection—your prognosis is poor.
Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that most commonly develops in the lungs of those with weakened immune systems. Aspergillus is a mold that is commonly found in the environment and rarely causes disease in those with healthy immune systems.
Aspergillosis mimics many other respiratory conditions so prompt diagnosis remains a challenge. Identification of risk factors, infection prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment are key, especially in light of growing antifungal resistance.
Invasive aspergillosis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised people, therefore if you are sick and have a fever you should contact your healthcare provider.What Is Aspergillosis? View Story