As the term suggests, a person is said to be suffering from fungal pneumonia when the fungi ends up entering the body and infecting the lungs. The causal fungi can be either opportunistic or endemic in nature. Endemic fungi is the one that already exists within the person, whereas, opportunistic fungi is the one that affects a compromised immune system. At times, the infection can be caused by both endemic as well as opportunistic fungi.
Endemic pneumonia is limited in healthy hosts―people who have a stronger immune system. The infection doesn't require treatment most of the time in these hosts. On the other hand, in a compromised immune system, fungal pneumonia can become contagious and can cause some serious symptoms that may require immediate medical attention.
The causal factors can be both external and internal. Various health conditions can make one prone to fungal infections, due to a compromised immune system. Such pneumonia can be contagious. Mentioned below are the common causes.
- Prolonged neutropenia
- Bone marrow transplant
- Cryptococcosis, a condition caused by inhaling yeast contaminated soil
- Lymphocutaneous disease, known as sporotrichosis, which can infect the lungs with fungi
- Histoplasmosis, caused by a fungus known as Histoplasma capsulatum
- Coccidioidomycosis, caused by an endemic fungus known as Coccidioides immitis, which usually resides in the soil
- Pulmonary blastomycosis, a fungal infection caused by a bacterium known as Blastomyces dermatitidis
- Rarely, such pneumonia can also be a result of candidiasis
The symptoms depend upon the cause behind its occurrence. 90% of the endemic fungal pneumonia cases are self-limited to a healthy host and doesn't require treatment. However, if the cause is something serious, such as AIDS, then the symptoms may also vary accordingly. Mentioned below are the commonly observed symptoms.
- Constant fever
- Discomfort in the chest
- Chest pain
- Breathing problems
- Nasal or sinus blockage
- Stiffness in the neck
- Skin lesions
The treatment would vary from case to case. Many times, the symptoms of fungal pneumonia may be confused with bacterial pneumonia, and the healthcare specialist may advise intake of antibiotics, which will not work in case of fungal infections. Therefore, as soon as the symptoms are identified, it is best to get in touch with a trusted doctor and get yourself checked thoroughly.
Various tests and examinations will be conducted, which may include X-rays, chest CT scan and radiography, blood test, sputum and fluid examination, and MRI scanning. Based on the outcome of these tests, the doctor will be able to identify the exact cause of the infection, and the treatment would then be advised accordingly. Doctors treat this pneumonia using antifungal drugs including Amphotericin B, Itraconazole, and Flucanazole. In severe cases, wherein the infection has caused death or severe damage of healthy tissues, surgery may be done for removal of the affected tissues, so that the infection doesn't spread to the healthy tissues.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a replacement for expert medical advice.