Aspergillus and Aspergillosis Infection

Asthma, Immune | October 10, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, Asthma

Aspergillus and Aspergillosis Infection

There are many ubiquitous airborne fungi all around us that we contantly inhale. Some of these fungi are relatively harmless while others can cause infections that present with symptoms that may at first seem rather miscellaneous, only to progress to much more serious ailments that debilitate our health. One of these destructive fungi is Aspergillus.

What is Aspergillus?

What is Aspergillus?Aspergillus is an airborne saprophytic fungus. It helps to recycle environmental carbon and  nitrogen, spreading itself by generating small dust-like particles known as conidia, which humans inhale. 

According to environmental surveys, every person inhales, at least, several hundred aspergillus conidia per day. This is why most people will experience infectious disease caused by Aspergillus in the lungs, although it can spread to almost any organ in those that are severely predisposed. 

Aspergillus fumigatus is the most widespread infection causing agent, accounting for around 90% of human infections, however, other pathogen in this genus, including A. flavusA. terreusA. niger, and A. nidulans can also cause human infections.

Who is at risk?

In people with competent immune systems, inhaling Aspergillus conidia rarely causes any adverse effects, since innate immune mechanisms are well-equipped to effectively eliminate those conidia. For people with weakened immune systems or lung disease, however, repeated exposure to Aspergillus could pose serious health threats.

Although Aspergillus was previously considered a weak pathogen responsible only for allergic forms of the disease, such as farmer’s lung; over the past decades, the dramatic increase in the number of immunosuppressed patients and the degree of severity of modern immunosuppressive therapies has seen Aspergillus become the most common airborne fungal pathogen, that causes severe and frequently fatal invasive infections in people with weakened immune systems in developed countries, including Australia.

The population most at risk for Aspergillosis iincludes patients with prolonged neutropenia, allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), solid organ transplant (SOT), inherited or acquired immunodeficiencies, corticosteroid use, among others.

Aspergillosis: Aspergillus Infection

Aspergillosis is the infection, allergic reaction, or fungal growth that is caused by the Aspergillus fungus. There are different types of aspergillus infections that  present with particular characteristic symptoms unique to each type of aspergillosis.

Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA)

Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis (ABPA)ABPA is the most severe allergic pulmonary complication caused by Aspergillus genus. People suffering from atopic asthma or cystic fibrosis are most susceptible to this type of aspergillus infection. The effects of ABPA range from asthma to fatal destruction of the lungs.

Symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • General feeling of malaise

Invasive Aspergillosis

Patients with weakened immune systems due to factors such as chemotherapy or conditions such as leukemia, cancer, and AIDS are especially susceptible to invasive aspergillosis. Invasive aspergillosis attacks the lung tissues and is able to spread to other vital organs such as the kidneys or brain.

Invasive aspergillosis that goes untreated can eventually cause infectious pneumonia, which can be life-threatening in people with immune systems that are already compromised.

Since this type of aspergillosis usually occurs in people who are already suffering from other medical conditions, separating the symptoms of invasive aspergillosis from those of the other conditions is an important step to identifying the infection.

Symptoms:

  • cough (may be bloody)
  • chest pain
  • fever
  • shortness of breath

Invasive aspergillosis that begins in the lungs can spread throughout the body.

AspergillomaAspergilloma

Patients with tuberculosis and other lung disease, that are exposed to the fungus, develop a fungus growth. Known as a fungus ball, Aspergilloma growth is typically made of fungus, white blood cells, and clots. Aspergilloma growth rarely spreads to other organs of your body. The growth can become enlarged and cause damage to the lung tissues.

Aspergilloma may present with a cough that may or not be bloody. It may also cause shortness of breath.

Symptoms:

  • chest pain and pain in the bones
  • vision problems
  • bloody urine (hematuria)
  • a reduced amount of urine
  • headaches
  • chills
  • breathing difficulties
  • skin sores/ulcers
  • bloody phlegm

What Causes Aspergillosis?

What Causes Aspergillosis?Aspergillosis infections are the result of being exposed to the Aspergillus fungus and having a weakened immune system. Some substances may also be more likely to carry the fungus, including:

  • compost
  • marijuana leaves
  • stored grains
  • rotting vegetation

Natural Therapies for Aspergillosis

It is important to consult with a doctor if you have or suspect aspergillosis infection. Treating or preventing aspergillosis naturally, especially for those with weakened immune systems due to other conditions such as cancer or HIV, requires an intergrated regimen that aims to boost and support the immune system, and fights off the fungal infection.

Diet

Symptoms of aspergillosis can be aggravated by eating foods that are processed with fungi, such as cheeses. Fermented foods attract viruses, fungi, and other invaders, while dried fruits, foods containing yeast, soy sauce, or vinegar can also cause or aggravate allergic symptoms. If you have or even suspect that you may have aspergillosis, or have been exposed to any toxigenic mold, then it is best to avoid these foods.

 Adjusting your diet to eliminate these foods is crucial to cleansing the body of fungi. 

  • Dried fruit (raisons, apricots, prunes, figs etc.)
  • Aged cheese
  • Mushrooms or fungi (truffles, sprouts etc.)
  • Leftovers (all foods should be eaten within 24 hours, unless frozen and thawed with microwave)
  • Bread  (malted and/or sugary dough such as sourdough, sourdough starters, yeast-free bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cakes and cookies)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tomato Products (juice, sauce, paste, ketchup, etc.)
  • Beer
  • Wine & Wine Vinegar
  • Liquor (Vodka, tequila, rums)
  • Multi-B Vitamins (some brands may contain yeast or mold.)
  • Ciders and fruit juices
  • Smoked or pickled meats and fish
  • Sausage, salami, bologna, frankfurters, corned beef or pickled foods.
  • Eggs
  • Melons (except fresh watermelons)

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano Essential OilNumerous essential oils have diverse types of aldehydes, phenolics, terpenes, and other antimicrobial compounds which lend them the potency to effectively destroy several types of bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens.

A study has shown Oregano essential oil is one of the best inhibitors of fungal pathogens. Oregano essential oil contains the phenolic compound, carvacrol as its main constituent, which disrupt fungal cell membranes.

To treat apsergillosis, it is best to take oregano essential oil as capsules for at least 90 consecutive days.

Garlic Extract

A study to measure the efficacy of garlic as an antifungal agent has concluded that Aqueous Garlic Extract and Concentrated Garlic Oil are very effective against Aspergillus infections and/or allergies. 

Vitamin D3

A study has found that patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) that is complicated by allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) were vitamin D deficient. During the study, seven patients aged 12 years and older with a clinical diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis with current evidence of Aspergillus fumigatus sensitization received 4000 IU vitamin D3 daily for 24 weeks.

It was found that six months of vitamin D3 supplementation was well tolerated by patients without any signs of vitamin D toxicity or hypercalcemia and that vitamin D may be beneficial in decreasing these allergic responses to aspergillus fumigatus

Speak with your doctor if you experience any unusual or worsening of symptoms of aspergillosis.

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