Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA) is an allergic or hypersensitive reaction to a fungus known as Aspergillus fumigatus. This is a fungi found in the soil.
Although most of us are frequently exposed to Aspergillus, a reaction to it is rare in people with normal immune systems. However, in certain people, the immune system overreacts to the antigens of Aspergillus fumigatus found in the lungs. This may damage the airways and result in permanent lung damage.
ABPA most commonly affects people with asthma or cystic fibrosis. Many people with ABPA also suffer from allergic conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), urticaria (hives), allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and sinusitis.
Symptoms & Diagnosis
If you have asthma, the first noticeable symptoms of ABPA are usually progressive worsening of your asthma symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath.
Other symptoms of ABPA include:
• Cough with brownish flecks or bloody mucous
• General weakness or malaise
Diagnosis for ABPA is determined by health history, x-rays or CT scans, allergy skin testing and/or blood tests.
Treatment & Management
The fungus that causes a reaction is difficult to avoid, so medication is typically prescribed to manage ABPA.
Asthma medications such as oral corticosteroids open the airways and make it easier to cough and clear out the fungus. The use of this medication depends upon the individual and the severity of ABPA. The prescription for some people is to take the medication when they have symptoms. Other people with more severe cases of the disease may require daily corticosteroid therapy.
In addition, an oral anti-fungal such as itraconazole may be recommended, although it is somewhat controversial regarding its effectiveness.
If you are diagnosed with ABPA, you should be followed closely by your physician in order to prevent or minimize damage to your lungs.
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