Aspergillosis Symptoms and Diagnosis

What are the Symptoms of Aspergillosis

The signs and symptoms of aspergillosis vary depending on the specific form.

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis has symptoms similar to asthma. They include coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

In chronic pulmonary aspergillosis, it usually takes a while for patients to develop symptoms. When they finally do emerge, symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, fatigue and weight loss. It is also common for chronic pulmonary aspergillosis patients to develop a tangled mass of fungus fibers called an aspergilloma or “fungus ball” in cavities within the lungs. Symptoms that accompany this growth are frequent and bloody coughing as well as shortness of breath.

Because patients with invasive aspergillosis usually suffer from other medical conditions, it can be hard to identify symptoms related to the aspergillosis infection. Symptoms may also differ depending on what organs are affected as the infection spreads. However, they commonly include coughing up blood, fever and chills, headaches, chest pain and shortness of breath.

Additionally, Aspergillus can cause localized infections of the nails, eyes, skin, sinuses or ear canals.

How Aspergillosis Is Diagnosed

When diagnosing aspergillosis, your doctor will want to consider your risk factors and medical history in conjunction with your symptoms and a physical exam. Then, they may suggest lab tests including skin, blood and sputum tests. Imaging tests such as a chest X-ray or CT scan can help with diagnosis because your doctor may be able to spot a nodule or fungal mass on your lung, caused by the mold, that would prompt your doctor to do further testing. If they are still unsure, a tissue biopsy may be the best way to get a clear diagnosis.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: March 24, 2020

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