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Lung diseases

Fungal infection in lungs

10/07/2009

Question:

How do you find out if you have a fungal infection in the lungs? How is it treated?

Answer:

There are many different types of fungal infections that can occur in the lungs. The more common ones include histoplasmosis which occurs in the Midwest and Southern United States, coccidioidiomycosis which occurs in the Southwestern United States, and aspirgillus which occurs throughout the United States. Each of these have different typical findings on x-rays and blood tests. Sometimes these infections can be diagnosed by blood antibody tests or in the case of histoplasmosis, a urine test. Sometimes they require culture of lung specimens such as those obtained during bronchoscopy. In some patients, a biopsy of the lung is required. Each type of fungus is treated differently with different types of antibiotics.

A related condition is called granulomas in the lung. These are scars that are usually caused by healed over fungal infections such as histoplasmosis. These rarely require any treatment.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University