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What Are the Different Types of Cryptococcosis Treatment?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cryptococcosis is a disease caused by a fungus. The primary medications in a cryptococcosis treatment regimen are antifungal drugs designed to combat fungal infections. Some patients may not require any medication if the infection does not pose an overall general health risk.

The fungus Cryptococcus neoformans naturally inhabits the earth, although people can breathe it in as particles. Bird excrement is another source of the fungus. Typically, the first area the fungus infects is the lungs. It also has the potential to move from the lungs to other parts of the body. A major danger of this infection is possible exposure to the brain, which can lead to serious consequences.

Symptoms of a lung infection include a cough, a pain in the lung area or in the bone that lies over the lungs. A doctor may be able to identify cryptococcosis through unusual lung sounds. Other, more generalized symptoms include fever, unexplained loss of weight and mental confusion.

Most often, cryptococcosis occurs in people who have immune systems that are not efficient. These people include cancer patients taking chemotherapy, people suffering from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and those with Hodgkin's disease. High dosages of steroids can also inhibit the immune system response enough to allow infection.

Healthy people can also suffer from cryptococcosis, but do not always show symptoms. For these people, and for others with mild infections, a doctor may not prescribe any cryptococcosis treatment. The patient's immune system may instead be left alone to resolve the infection. Even if the patient remains infected with the fungus for some time, the microbe may not damage the body, or spread to other areas. A doctor can perform a checkup examination over the course of a year to ensure the patient is in good health.

When complications occur in the lungs, or when the fungus moves from the lungs to other parts of the body, then the doctor can prescribe antifungal medication. One of the reasons people with mild infections do not typically need to take medication is that the possible side effects of the effective antifungal drugs can outweigh the potential benefit to the patient. A long cryptococcosis treatment regime may be necessary. On the other hand, the complications of the disease can cause brain damage or even death.

Those patients who suffer from HIV infection and also require cryptococcosis treatment may receive fluconazole. This drug is also suitable for less severe infections that do not involve the brain. Cases where the fungus has resulted in severe disease outside of the lung area, including the brain, may require the drug amphotericin B. A doctor may also give some patients with serious infections flucytosine as well as amphotericin B.

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