A Fungal Allergy at Home in Your Lungs
An allergic reaction to a type of common fungus that's contained in the soil can cause serious consequences for those with asthma or cystic fibrosis.
While everyone has some level of fungus in their lungs, the experts believe that in certain people with existing respiratory conditions, fungus called Aspergillus fumigatus can grow in the lungs. This causes the immune system to launch an attack against the mold, leading to Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA). Although many asthmatics can be at risk for experiencing this allergic condition, men and adolescents are more likely than others to suffer from the effects.
Symptoms of ABPA
A worsening of asthma is often one of the earliest signs of ABPA. This is often accompanied by unusual weakness, exercise-induced asthma, a fever, and a cough that occurs with blood-streaked mucus. However, ABPA can occur without symptoms.
What to Do About ABPA
If you think you could have ABPA, see your doctor as soon as possible. She'll probably need to evaluate your symptoms to rule out other ailments since many conditions look similar to ABPA. Also, expect to undergo a skin test to see if you're sensitive to the aspergillus antigens.
If you meet the criteria for Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis, steer clear of any contact with the fungus. People with ABPA should also avoid poor environmental conditions, such as damp buildings, compost heaps, and other places where extensive mold spores are likely to be present. Even outdoor air contains high levels of mold spores at certain times of the year. If you must be around these conditions, wear a facemask to limit your exposure.
Treating Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis
Oral corticosteroids are typically an appropriate course of treatment to address the inflammation associated with Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis. Depending on your circumstances, these may be taken on an ongoing basis or could be reserved specifically for periods of time when symptoms flare. In some cases, taking an anti-fungal medication can also help, but before anything else, talk to your doctor.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. "Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA)." Web. 25 March 2012.
Aspergillosis Patient Support. "ABPA - Allergic Broncho-Pulmonary Aspergillosis." 9 March 2009. Web. 25 March 2012.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis." Web. 25 March 2012. http://www.cff.org/LivingWithCF/StayingHealthy/Germs/ABPA/
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