Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA) is an allergic or hypersensitive reaction to a fungus found in the soil known as Aspergillus fumigatus.
Most people have frequent exposure to the mold Aspergillus, however a reaction to it is uncommon in people with normal immune systems.Rarely, in certain people, the immune system overreacts to the antigens of Aspergillus fumigatus found in the lungs which may result in damage to the lungs and airways.
Patients with asthma and cystic fibrosis are more commonly affected. Many people with ABPA also suffer from allergic conditions such as eczema, hives, nasal allergies, or sinus allergies.
Symptoms & Diagnosis
If you have asthma, the first noticeable symptoms of ABPA are usually progressive worsening of your respiratory complaints including cough, 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.
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. You will frequently have a pulmonologist in addition to your allergy team co-managing your disease.