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Condition

Aspergillosis

Symptoms, Doctors, Treatments, Research & More

Condition 101

What is the definition of Aspergillosis?

Aspergillosis is an infection or allergic response due to the aspergillus fungus.

What are the alternative names for Aspergillosis?

Aspergillus infection

What are the causes for Aspergillosis?

Aspergillosis is caused by a fungus called aspergillus. The fungus is often found growing on dead leaves, stored grain, compost piles, or in other decaying vegetation. It can also be found on marijuana leaves.

Although most people are often exposed to aspergillus, infections caused by the fungus rarely occur in people who have a healthy immune system.

There are several forms of aspergillosis:

  • Allergic pulmonary aspergillosis is an allergic reaction to the fungus. This infection usually develops in people who already have lung problems such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.
  • Aspergilloma is a growth (fungus ball) that develops in an area of past lung disease or lung scarring such as tuberculosis or lung abscess.
  • Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis is a serious infection with pneumonia. It can spread to other parts of the body. This infection occurs most often in people with a weakened immune system. This can be from cancer, AIDS, leukemia, an organ transplant, chemotherapy, or other conditions or drugs that lower the number or function of white blood cells or weaken the immune system.

What are the symptoms for Aspergillosis?

Symptoms depend on the type of infection.

Symptoms of allergic pulmonary aspergillosis may include:

  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood or brownish mucus plugs
  • Fever
  • General ill feeling (malaise)
  • Wheezing
  • Weight loss

Other symptoms depend on the part of the body affected, and may include:

  • Bone pain
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Decreased urine output
  • Headaches
  • Increased phlegm production, which may be bloody
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin sores (lesions)
  • Vision problems

What are the current treatments for Aspergillosis?

A fungus ball is usually not treated with antifungal medicines unless there is bleeding into the lung tissue. In such a case, surgery and medicines are needed.

Invasive aspergillosis is treated with several weeks of an antifungal medicine. It can be given by mouth or IV (into a vein). Endocarditis caused by aspergillus is treated by surgically replacing the infected heart valves. Long-term antifungal drugs are also needed.

Allergic aspergillosis is treated with drugs that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressive drugs), such as prednisone.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Aspergillosis?

With treatment, people with allergic aspergillosis usually get better over time. It is common for the disease to come back (relapse) and need repeat treatment.

If invasive aspergillosis does not get better with drug treatment, it eventually leads to death. The outlook for invasive aspergillosis also depends on the person's underlying disease and immune system health.

What are the possible complications for Aspergillosis?

Health problems from the disease or treatment include:

  • Amphotericin B can cause kidney damage and unpleasant side effects such as fever and chills
  • Bronchiectasis (permanent scarring and enlargement of the small sacs in the lungs)
  • Invasive lung disease can cause massive bleeding from the lung
  • Mucus plugs in the airways
  • Permanent airway blockage
  • Respiratory failure

When should I contact a medical professional for Aspergillosis?

Call your provider if you develop symptoms of aspergillosis or if you have a weakened immune system and develop a fever.

How do I prevent Aspergillosis?

Precautions should be taken when using medicines that suppress the immune system.

Aspergilloma
Pulmonary
Aspergillosis

REFERENCES

Patterson TF. Aspergillus species. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 259.

Walsh TJ. Aspergillosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 339.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Patients with Hematological Disease or Undergoing Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT)
  • Journal: JAMA network open
  • Treatment Used: Antifungal Prophylaxis Drugs
  • Number of Patients: 14789
  • Published —
This review of the literature summarized the effectiveness and adverse effects of antifungal agents used as prophylaxis prophylaxis in patients with hematological disease or who are undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT)(HSCT).
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Relapsed Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis
  • Journal: Scientific reports
  • Treatment Used: Voriconazole Therapy
  • Number of Patients: 87
  • Published —
This study investigated the rate of relapse for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis from patients undergoing a short-course voriconazole therapy as opposed to a long-course therapy.

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trial
Other
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Participants: 25
  • Start Date: November 15, 2020
Immune Profiles in CF Fungal Infection