Histoplasmosis is the result of a fungal infection that predominantly affects the lungs. The following article provides a brief overview of this disease.
Histoplasmosis is a disease that affects the lungs, and is caused by the fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. The infection may spread to the other parts of the body, in which case it is called disseminated histoplasmosis. The symptoms, and their severity, varies greatly from case to case.
The disease spreads through airborne fungal spores, and the severity and rate of progression depends on the number of spores inhaled. The fungus thrives well on soil that receives bird droppings. People like farmers, landscapers, and construction workers are more likely to suffer from this disease.
As mentioned earlier the fungus called H. capsulatum is the causative agent, and it thrives on damp soil which is rich in organic material added by the droppings of bats and birds. When the spores or the reproductive cells of the fungus float in the air or soil, and are inhaled by humans, they give rise to histoplasmosis. The spores, once inside the lungs, are captured by the macrophages, the phagocytic immune cells of the body. These spores are then carried to the lymph nodes, where they multiply and grow.
The early stages may be asymptomatic, but the later stages are characterized by severe symptoms. The manifestation of symptoms occurs within 3-17 days after contracting the spores. In certain cases, there might be no visible symptoms, but small scars may develop on the lungs. These can be seen only through imaging techniques.
In case of moderate to severe histoplasmosis, the symptoms would include the following:
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
- Dry cough
- Cough that may contain blood
If the infection spreads to the other organs, it may lead to anemia, pneumonia, pericarditis, meningitis, adrenal insufficiency, as well as oral and gastrointestinal ulcers.
Generally, treatment is not required in case of mild infection. In case of moderate to severe cases, antifungal medicines like Amphoterin B and Itraconazole may be recommended. In extreme cases, antifungal agents need to be administered intravenously.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.