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Alternative Names Return to topAspergillosis - allergic bronchopulmonary; Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis; ABPA
Definition Return to top
Pulmonary aspergillosis is an allergic reaction to a fungus called aspergillus, which causes inflammation of the airways and air sacs of the lungs.
Causes Return to top
The aspergillus fungus is common. It can grow on dead leaves, stored grain, bird droppings, compost stacks and other decaying vegetation.
Although most people are frequently exposed to aspergillus, infections caused by it are rare in people with a normal immune system. These rare infections include pneumonia and fungus ball (aspergilloma).
Some people, however, have an allergic reaction (hypersensitivity) to this fungus, which is called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA). It is characterized by inflammation of the airways (bronchi) or air sacs (alveoli). The disease may mimic asthma or pneumonia, and, in fact, most patients with ABPA have asthma as well.
Patients with asthma or cystic fibrosis are at highest risk for allergic aspergillosis.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Allergic aspergillosis is treated with steroids such as prednisone. The anti-fungal antibiotic itraconazole can also be helpful. People with asthma should also continue their usual treatments.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
People usually get better with treatment, over time. Relapses requiring repeat treatment are common.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this disorder.
Call your health care provider if breathing becomes more difficult. Severe breathing difficulty is an emergency.
Prevention Return to top
People at higher risk (those with asthma, cystic fibrosis, etc.) should try to avoid environments where this fungus is found.
References Return to topWalsh TJ, Anaissie EJ, Denning DW, et al. Treatment of aspergillosis: clincial practice guidelines of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2008;46(3):327-60. Update Date: 5/19/2008 Updated by: Sean O. Stitham, MD, private practice in Internal Medicine, Seattle, WA; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital.. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.