What is it?
Aspergillosis is a disease caused by a fungus (or mold) called Aspergillus. The fungus is very common in both indoors and outdoors and usually grows on decaying vegetation and dead leaves. Most people breathe in the spores of the fungus every day without being affected. But some people get the disease. It usually occurs in people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems. Persons having asthma or some pulmonary problems are more susceptible to bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) which causes allergic reactions such as coughing and wheezing. Invasive aspergillosis is caused by weakened immune system makes it more difficult to fight off infections. This type of aspergillosis invades your lung tissues and can spread to your kidneys or brain. If invasive aspergillosis goes untreated, it can cause infectious pneumonia. Infectious pneumonia can be life-threatening in people with compromised immune systems.
What are the symptoms?
- Shortness of breath
- Fever (in rare cases)
- Coughing out blood
- Weight loss
- Other symptoms can develop if the infection spreads from the lungs to other parts of the body.
- Avoid places where aspergillus mould is often found, such as compost heaps and piles of dead leaves
- Close your windows if there’s construction work or digging outside
- Wear a face mask in dusty places
- Consider using an air purifier at home – devices with HEPA filters are best
- Do not dry your laundry in your bedroom or living areas, if possible – ideally dry it outside or in a tumble dryer
Things to watch out for
Go to a GP if a cough for more than 3 weeks, a lung condition that’s getting worse or harder to control with your usual treatment, a weakened immune system and symptoms of aspergillosis Get an urgent GP appointment if you cough up blood. Call 000 if you can’t see your GP.