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What is invasive aspergillosis?

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Aspergillosis is an infection caused by a type of mold called aspergillus. It usually affects your lungs.

Aspergillus, the mold that causes aspergillosis, is quite common. You can find it everywhere, indoors and out. Tiny bits of the mold, called spores, float in the air. Most of us can breathe in these spores without any problem.

But if you’re already sick or have problems with your immune system because of certain illnesses or medications you take, you can get aspergillosis. It isn’t contagious though, so you can’t give it to or catch it from someone else.

If you have a weakened immune system, you’re more likely to get a type of aspergillosis called invasive aspergillosis. It starts in your lungs and can travel to other organs. Symptoms depend on which organ it affects, but generally you might notice:

In severe cases you might also have:

  • Fever that doesn’t improve with antibiotics
  • Chest pain that worsens with big breaths
  • Dry cough
  • Aspergillomas, also known as or fungus balls or fungal balls. These slow-growing tangled balls are made up of mold fibers, mucus, white blood cells, and bits of clotted blood.
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sores (ulcers) inside your mouth or inside your chest wall
  • Swelling on one side of eye
  • Trouble talking or moving face muscles

SOURCES:

National Organization for Rare Disorders: “Aspergillosis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Aspergillosis.”

American Thoracic Society: “Aspergillosis.”

CDC: “Aspergillosis.”

Merck Manual: “Aspergillosis.”

Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner on April 23, 2020

SOURCES:

National Organization for Rare Disorders: “Aspergillosis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Aspergillosis.”

American Thoracic Society: “Aspergillosis.”

CDC: “Aspergillosis.”

Merck Manual: “Aspergillosis.”

Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner on April 23, 2020

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