Aspergillosis infection: Causes, Diagnosis, Symptoms & Prevention

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Aspergillus is a fungus which may cause Aspergillosis infection. Due to this function, a person may have an allergic response, infection in different organs or fungal growth. The fungus Aspergillus can live both in indoor and outdoor conditions. It usually grows on decomposing plants, stored food grains, compost manure or dead lives. It is also known to grow on hemp leaves. People with tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease report to have maximum cases of Aspergillosis infection. It is important to remember that just getting in contact with this fungus won’t cause the infection but if anyone has a weak immune system or some sort of lung disease then there are possible chances of its infection. In our daily lives, we come in contact with this fungus regularly but it doesn’t mean that we will contract this infection very easily.  However, we need to remember that this is not a contagious disease.

Types and symptoms of Aspergillosis infection

There are different types of Aspergillosis infection detected till date.They have their own different features. Every type is concerned with certain kind of illness or condition. Having particular other kinds of related illness may increase the chances of getting a particular kind of Aspergillus infection. Some of the types are very dangerous while some are a bit normal. The different types are as mentioned below:

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  1. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is that type in which the fungus causes lungs problems and allergic reactions such as coughing and sneezing. Sometimes,  symptoms of fever and short breath is also noticed in this case. It doesn’t cause infection but it causes difficulty in breathing and normal sickness. People with Asthma or cystic fibrosis have higher risks of getting this kind of aspergillosis.
  2. Invasive Aspergillosis is common in people who had done chemotherapy under Cancer-related conditions. At that time their immune system is weak and also in case of AIDS, the fungus can spread also to other organs like brain and kidney except for the lungs. In this case, the person may get pneumonia and it is a very serious condition. But it is difficult to identify this problem because these symptoms appear with other conditions. The patient may have a bloody cough, chest pain, heavy breathing, and fever.
  3. Aspergilloma can happen in people who have tuberculosis or other lung problems. Fungus ball or a fungus growth is developed as a result of contact with the fungus. The fungus ball consists of WBC, clot or fungus. This fungus can expand to harm the lungs but this doesn’t spread to other parts of the body. In this condition, the patient may have a cough but there may not be blood and heavy breathing including many other symptoms.
  4. Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis is a long-term infection caused by the fungus. One or more fungal balls may be present. Its symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, blood cough and short breath.
  5. Allergic Aspergillus sinusitis causes problems in the sinus which causes symptoms like a headache and nasal stuffiness. It doesn’t cause infection.
  6. Cutaneous skin aspergillosis is caused when the fungus enters through the skin breakage or wounds. If invasive aspergillosis infects the skin, then also this problem is caused.

Apart from these symptoms which are related to each type of Aspergillosis, it also has other signs and symptoms. They are as follows:

  1. The patient may have pain in the bones and chest.
  2. There may be difficulty in sight and vision-related problems.
  3. Blood may also be noticed in Urine.
  4. The patient will pass less urine.
  5. There may complain of a headache and chills.
  6. The phlegm may contain blood while coughing.
  7. There will be shortness and difficulty in breathing.
  8. The patient may also complain of skin sores.

Aspergillosis infection Causes

The Aspergillus fungus is the main causative agent of Aspergillosis infection. It happens because of exposure to the fungus during several other medical or physical conditions. The fungus may be present in the Compost piles, decayed plants, a marijuana plant or stored food grains.

Diagnosis and Testing for Aspergillosis infection

For a proper diagnosis of Aspergillosis infection, the doctor has to carefully examine and study the symptoms of the infected person. It is also important to inform the doctor about your medical history which may be one of the conditions for Aspergillosis infection. The known methods to test this infection is by taking biopsy test and testing the tissue of the lungs. Fluid may be collected from the lungs for testing. It is done by inserting an instrument through the nose. Other possible ways to diagnose this problem is by conducting blood tests to detect any fungus, allergens or antibodies present in the blood. Similarly, Chest X-ray or lungs CT scan is also recommended by the doctors. Bronchial mucus may need to be tested by culture or sputum stain.

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Treatment of Aspergillosis

Proper treatment of the problem should be adopted on time after the diagnosis otherwise it may result in a fatal situation. There are various treatment methods available for Aspergillosis infection. There are different medications for allergic or Invasive Aspergillosis. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis and allergic Aspergillus sinusitis fall under allergic Aspergillosis. For this condition, itraconazole is recommended which is an antifungal medication only to be used with doctor’s prescription. Another medicine called Corticosteroids may also be prescribed.

In case of Invasive aspergillosis different medicine is prescribed. Voriconazole is also a prescription medicine which is recommended for cases of Invasive aspergillosis. Voriconazole is also an antifungal medication. There are many other antifungal medications available which can be used for the treatment of Aspergillosis. Medicines like micafungin, itraconazole, and caspofungin are recommended. Similarly, other antifungal medicines like itraconazole, posaconazole, and isavuconazole.

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They all are lipid amphotericin formulations which are beneficial for treating Aspergillosis. In severe cases of infection, surgery may also be necessary for its treatment. Surgery is usually recommended when the fungal infection reaches the valves in the heart. Intensive antifungal treatment must be followed after the surgery.

People recover when they get treatment of time but most of the times, the Aspergillosis infection may come back even after a treatment and full recovery. It is necessary to repeat the treatment procedure during those conditions.  In case of invasive aspergillosis if the problem does not get better then it may result in life-threatening situations.

Complications of the infection or treatment

Though treatment of this disease if possible still there are chances of complications because of the infection or as a result of the treatment. There can be serious side effects as well as kidney damage as a result of the use of Amphotericin B. The sacs in the lungs may be scarred or enlarged.  There may be bleeding in the lungs because of complications. The airways also may be plugged or permanently blocked with mucus. Finally, in severe complications, there are also chances of failure of a respiratory system.

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