Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA)
Your healthcare provider has told you that you have allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA). This means you are having an allergic reaction to a common fungus called Aspergillus. ABPA causes the lungs to become inflamed. This leads to symptoms such as wheezing and coughing. You may cough up a lot of phlegm or brown specks of blood. You may also develop a fever. People with asthma or cystic fibrosis are most at risk of ABPA. Read on to learn more about ABPA and how it can be treated.
What is Aspergillus?
Aspergillus is a common fungus. It is often found in soil, on plants, and in rotting vegetation. Tiny particles of the fungus can be breathed into the lungs. This doesn’t cause a problem in most people. But sometimes if you have an allergy to the fungus, it can lead to ABPA.
Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also have one or more of the following tests:
Skin test. This test injects a small amount of the fungus into the skin and checks it for an allergic reaction.
Blood test. A blood sample is taken and checked for signs of allergic reaction.
Sputum culture. A fluid sample is taken from the lungs and checked for fungus.
Imaging tests. Tests such as a chest X-ray or CT scan are done to take detailed pictures of the lungs.
Biopsy. A sample of lung tissue is taken and checked for fungus.
Corticosteroid medicines can help reduce the inflammation in your lungs. You may also be given medicines to help kill the fungus. Take these medicines exactly as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you have side effects from the medicines. Check with your pharmacist before using any over-the-counter medicines while you are getting treatment for ABPA. With treatment, symptoms linked to ABPA can be controlled in most cases. But if left untreated, ABPA can cause scarring in the lungs.
After treatment, you will need to take steps to prevent contact with Aspergillus in the future. Wear a breathing mask when working in the garden, sweeping, or doing other tasks that could expose you to the fungus.
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as advised by your healthcare provider
Cough that brings up blood
Symptoms that don’t get better with treatment, or that get worse