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What is Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 June 2018
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Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is an extremely challenging condition, though it can be managed when appropriately diagnosed. In essence, it is an allergy to a fungus called aspergilus, but the response to the mold is specific to the airway, and people may not show the allergy elsewhere. This response can be dramatic and result in permanent lung damage without treatment.

Most people are not likely to be susceptible to allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. It tends to occur more commonly in people who have other breathing conditions. These include illnesses like cystic fibrosis, asthma, or any condition that has caused the bronchus (one of many passages in the airway) to enlarge. The last is also referred to as bronchiectasis.

For vulnerable people, exposure to aspergilus causes significant reaction that may begin with an onslaught of asthma symptoms. These could be accompanied by coughing up blood or thick brown mucus. Asthma symptoms usually accompany feelings of malaise or tiredness.

Inflammation of the airway in response to the presence of aspergilus creates these symptoms. At the same time, certain white blood cells eosinophils arrive in the lungs in too large a supply. High amounts of mucus are produced in which aspergilus takes up residence. Since it can live there for long periods of time, it may cause repeated reactions, and without diagnosis this condition can scar the lungs or result in bronchiectasis if it was not already present.

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Diagnosis of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis can take some time to establish. Having a disease that itself poses a risk factor for developing this condition is one possible hint, along with presentation or asthma symptoms, flulike symptoms and bloody or brown mucus. Doctors can also do x-rays or computed tomography scans, but these may be most helpful if repeated scans are taken. Frequently what appears to resemble pneumonia in a first scan will look like pneumonia that moved elsewhere in a second scan, if the scans are taken some time apart from each other.

Other tests used to confirm allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis include allergy testing for allergy to aspergilus and blood tests to examine white cell count. Another method of diagnosis is lung biopsy. This is typically avoided unless diagnosis is required right away.

It is important to treat this condition early, but that doesn’t always occur, leading to unfortunate complications like lung scarring. In any stage, standard methods for addressing this condition are to use a combination of oral and inhaled corticosteroids. These may be combined with oral antifungal medications.

Treatment doesn’t cure people, and they’re like to have recurrent infections, though inhaled steroid use may prevent damage, preserving health for a long time. Prevention is equally difficult. Aspergilus is easy to find in many places. Most people, even with asthma, may not get this allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, but it still might be wise for those at greater risk to consider asking physicians about safety measures to use in those places most associated with high volume of this fungus.

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