Histoplasmosis is a form of lung infection that is caused by inhalation of Histoplasma capsulatum fungal spores. Take note that these spores are present in the soil and droppings of birds and bats.
In most cases of histoplasmosis, they do not necessitate treatment. Nevertheless, those who have weakened immune systems might end up with serious issues. The condition might progress and spread to other body parts. In some cases, skin lesions have been reported particularly among those that have spread all over the body.
What are the symptoms?
Many individuals who have been infected with the fungus do not have any symptoms. Nevertheless, the risk of the symptoms heightens if an individual inhale more spores. When an individual develops symptoms, they usually manifest approximately 10 days after exposure. The possible symptoms include the following:
- Dry cough
- Chest pain
- Reddened bumps on the lower legs
As for severe cases, symptoms such as coughing up blood, excessive sweating or shortness of breath can occur.
Once the condition becomes widespread, it results to irritation and inflammation with symptoms such as high fever, chest pain due to the swelling around the heart as well as headaches and stiff neck due to the swelling of the spinal cord and the brain.
What are the causes of histoplasmosis?
The fungal spores can be released into the air once contaminated soil or droppings are disturbed. Inhalation of the spores can trigger an infection. Remember that the spores responsible for the condition are usually found in areas where bats and birds typically roost such as chicken coops, caves, parks and old barns.
An individual can acquire histoplasmosis more than once. Nevertheless, the initial infection is essentially the most severe. The fungus will not spread from one individual to another and not contagious.
Forms of histoplasmosis
This is a short-term form that is usually mild and rarely triggers any complications. Those who live in areas where the fungus is common have been exposed and most do not even have any symptoms.
Long-term histoplasmosis is less common than the acute form. In rare instances, it can spread all over the body. Once it spreads all over the body, it is considered life-threatening if not treated. The disease becomes widespread among those who have weakened immune systems.
Among those who have a mild infection, treatment might not be necessary. The doctor might instruct the individual to rest and use an over-the-counter medication for the symptoms.
If the individual experiences difficulty breathing or infected for more than a month, treatment is needed. An oral antifungal medication might be given but IV treatment might also be started. The commonly used medications include ketoconazole, itraconazole and amphotericin B.
As for severe infections, the medication is administered intravenously, usually the most potent one is used. In addition, some might use antifungal medication for up to 2 years.