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What is aspergillosis?

Aspergillosis is an infection, allergic reaction, or fungal growth caused by aspergillus mould. This mould can be found in many places (soil, air, plants, decomposing organic matter, dust and food). It affects people with a weak immune system and people receiving treatment with steroids or chemotherapy, etc. It is very rare in those who are ‘healthy’.

The most common types of aspergillosis are aspergillosis fumigatus and aspergillosis flavus. The most complex type is pulmonar aspergillosis since it invades and damages all the tissues in the body, in particular the lungs. It especially affects people who suffer from asthma or cystic fibrosis. The diagnosis is obtained by performing a chest X-ray, a CT scan of the lungs or an examination of the tissues to verify the existence of the fungus in question.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may vary, including:

  • A cough (sometimes with blood)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Pain in your chest and bones
  • Vision difficulties
  • Blood in your urine
  • Less urine
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin sores
  • Bloody phlegm

Causes of aspergillosis

The illness is the result of a combination of exposure to aspergillus mould and a weak immune system. You are more likely to have aspergillosis if you have previously had tuberculosis, have a weakened immune system, or have an existing lung condition such as COPD.

What is the treatment?

Medication: the treatment of aspergillosis is based on the prescription of antifungal medications. Oral or intravenous drugs such as voriconazole can treat the invasive type of aspergillosis. If you have allergic aspergillosis, you may receive medication that suppresses your immune system, such as prednisone, along with antifungal drugs.

Surgery: If the fungus causes aspergilloma, a ball of mould in the lungs, surgery is usually necessary to remove the mould if it’s causing symptoms.