Aspergillosis causes symptoms treatment netdoctor

AspergillosisPascale Huber studied veterinary medicine at the Free University of Berlin. She worked as a practicing veterinarian for several years until she switched to medical journalism in 2009. Currently she is chief editor of veterinary professional and lay portals. Its focus is the creation of human and veterinary content for professionals and patients.

Aspergillosis is the technical term for a mold infection caused by Aspergillus species. The infection often affects the sinuses and lungs. The fungus can also affect other organ systems, such as the skin, ears, gastrointestinal tract or nervous system. Learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of aspergillosis here!

aspergillosis causes symptoms treatment netdoctor

Aspergillosis: Description

Aspergillosis is an infection with a specific mold of the genus Aspergillus. The Latin name means "the frond" – under the microscope the fungus spores look like a frond.

Aspergillus fungi are found practically everywhere in the environment. They thrive particularly well on rotting plant parts, for example in compost heaps, organic waste garbage cans and potting soil. But the fungus can also hide indoors, for example behind wallpaper, in old upholstered furniture or insulating materials.

People can contract aspergillosis by inhaling the fungal spores. It often affects people whose immune system is weakened, for example, by certain diseases or medications. For healthy people, however, the fungus is rarely a threat.

Aspergillosis and its clinical pictures

Aspergillosis can cause various clinical pictures. There are:

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA)Here, the fungi colonize bronchial tubes and lungs and cause an allergic reaction at the same time. ABPA is occasionally seen in people with chronic lung diseases such as chronic bronchial asthma. Aspergilloma: Fungal colonization in an existing body cavity (such as sinuses or lungs) in the form of a larger, spherical structure composed of fungal filaments, mucous gland secretions, and dead cells ("mushroom ball"). Especially with a weakened immune system, the fungus can penetrate deeper into the tie starting from the aspergilloma (invasive aspergillosis). Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA)Aspergillus fungi penetrate deeper into the lung tie. It is usually a complication of severe viral pneumonia, such as those caused by influenza, parainfluenza or coronaviruses. Other forms of invasive aspergillosisStarting in the lungs, the fungus can spread through the bloodstream to any other organ, such as the heart, kidneys, liver, eyes, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and/or skin. Doctors then speak of a disseminated infestation. Superficial aspergillosis: This rare form of Aspergillus infection can develop in burns, under bandages, after damage to the eye or in the sinuses, mouth, nose, or external auditory canal.

Aspergillosis: symptoms

The symptoms of aspergillosis depend primarily on which organ system is affected by the mold.

Possible symptoms of aspergillosis include:

– Inflammation of the bronchi (bronchitis) or lungs (pneumonia) with shortness of breath, rales when breathing, painful cough, and brownish-purulent, rarely bloody sputum – Sinusitis with nasal discharge, prere pain in the area of the sinuses, headache – Inflammation of the external auditory canal with itching, pain, ear discharge – asthma attacks in case of allergic bronchial asthma – weakness of cardiac output (power kink, shortness of breath) – diarrhea and abdominal pain in case of gastrointestinal tract involvement – neurological disorders in case of central nervous system involvement, meningitis – fever

Aspergillosis: Causes and risk factors

The cause of aspergillosis is a Infection with molds of the genus Aspergillus. Aspergillus fumigatus is involved in more than 90 percent of cases. Other Aspergillus species found in humans are A. terreus, A. flavus, A. niger and A. nidulans. The molds thrive especially on plant material such as old fruits and vegetables and typically in potting soil. People become infected by inhaling the mold spores; these settle directly in the respiratory tract and from here can infect other organs.

Aspergillosis cannot be transmitted from person to person!

Risk factors for aspergillosis

Aspergillus fungi are very widespread. However, not every contact with the pathogen also leads to disease. The main risk factors for aspergillosis are therefore considered to be diseases associated with reduced resistance to disease, for example HIV or. AIDS.

Treatment with drugs that curb the immune system (immunosuppressants), increases the risk of developing aspergillosis. Such drugs are given, for example, after organ transplants to prevent rejection of the donor organ. Certain agents used in cancer therapy (cytostatics) also have an immunosuppressive effect.

Various autoimmune diseases as well as chronic lung diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease = COPD, bronchial asthma) also make the affected person more susceptible to the fungal infection. Healthy people with an intact immune system, on the other hand, very rarely contract aspergillosis.

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