Aspergillosis is caused by fungi belonging to the genus Aspergillus. It is an infectious disease that usually affects the respiratory organs, mainly the lungs and bronchi and can present itself in mild to very severe ways.

This fungus is widespread in a vast variety of climatic conditions. It is present in decaying leaves and also deposits on plants, trees and crops. Hence, people commonly come in contact with Aspergillus mold.

Aspergillosis infection

There are three types of aspergillosis and each one varies in the level of severity, indications and treatment.

1.    Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA)

People who suffer from asthma or cystic fibrosis tend to develop an allergy towards the aspergillus fungus.

2.    Aspergilloma

In case a person has emphysema, tuberculosis or sarcoidosis, the aspergillus fibers can populate the air cavities within their lungs and proliferate into knotted masses known as fungal balls or aspergillomas. These can either be minor or very acute.

3.    Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis

This condition is very critical, where the spread of infection occurs rapidly from the lungs to the brain, heart, kidneys or skin.

Risk factors for aspergillosis consist of a compromised immune system such as those who are under bone marrow transplantation treatment or immunosuppressant medications, as well as an already underlying lung disorder like asthma or tuberculosis. Moreover, the aspergillus microbes can also affect other organs including the eyes, ears and nails.

The complications arising from aspergillosis, if left untreated, include critical internal bleeding in the lungs. It is therefore recommended to immediately seek medical attention if you encounter aspergillus particles or sense signs of fungal infection.

Symptoms:

The distinctive signs of aspergillosis depend on the type of infection that a person contracts.

1.    Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA)

This type of infection gives rise to:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing, with the release of mucus

2. Aspergilloma

This fungal contamination leads to:

  • Coughing up blood, known as hemoptysis
  • Wheezing like on asthma
  • Sudden loss of weight

3. Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis

This grave aspergillus contamination triggers:

Diagnosis And Treatment:

Detecting aspergillosis in a patient can prove to be quite difficult for the doctor, as the condition is quite common and can be hard to differentiate from other mold infections.

The healthcare provider performs imaging tests such as chest X-rays, to detect the presence of any fungal clusters. He or she will also take samples of sputum, blood and lung tissue (known as a biopsy), to further analyse if there is any mold growth.

Treatment is very specific based on the type of aspergillosis that presents in the affected individual and comprises the following techniques:

1.    Observation

In minor situations of aspergilloma, the doctor closely monitors the chest X-ray results until the infection reduces gradually on its own. In case it progresses, antifungal drugs are prescribed.

2.    Oral Corticosteroids

In instances of ABPA, to circumvent asthma or cystic fibrosis from aggravating, oral corticosteroids are prescribed.

3.    Antifungal Medications

These medicines are routinely advised to be taken for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis.

4.    Surgery

When the aspergilloma exacerbates and bleeding occurs within the lungs, the medical professional will perform surgical procedures to remove the fungal groups.

5.    Embolization

This is an invasive protocol, where material is inserted into the lungs and it becomes hard, to effectively stop bleeding in the region.

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