Fungal pneumonia is an acute inflammation of the lung parenchyma caused due to fungi. Fungal pneumonia can be caused by opportunistic fungi or it can spread by endemic fungus. The commonest mode of spread to the lungs is by inhalation of spores. Reactivation of the latent fungus is possible when the circumstance favors it. Hematogenous spread occurs especially when the patient is in an immune-compromised state.
The common endemic fungal pathogens are: histoplasma capsulatum, coccidioides immitis, Blastomyces dermatitidis. They can infect a healthy person or immune-compromised individual.
Opportunistic fungal organisms include: mucor fungus, Cryptococcus, Candida and aspergellis, they invade persons whose immune system is weak since birth or later in their life.
Travelers, farmers who may be exposed to dropping of animals and birds can get infected with various fungi.
A laboratory technician, who interacts with the fungus C immitis, is prone to get infected due to high virulence of this fungus.
Persons at a greater risk of contracting fungal pneumonia are:
- Those suffering from HIV and AIDs.
- Taking long course of steroids.
- Kidney transplant patients who are on immunosuppressive drugs.
- Bone marrow transplant patients.
Symptoms Of Fungal Pneumonia
Fungal pneumonia symptoms present in an atypical manner.
- Fever and chill.
- Non productive and dry cough.
- Breathing difficulty.
- Chest pain while breathing.
- Hemoptysis (blood in sputum).
- Arthralgia (pain in joints).
- Erythema nodosum.
- Rapid pulse rate.
- Increased respiratory rate.
- Skin involvement causes skin pustules and abscesses.
- Skin and bone lesions.
- Meningitis and neuropathies in patients suffering from AIDs.
Persistent fever not responding to broad spectrum antibiotics in a person with an immune-compromised state, may be the earliest sign before cough and breathing trouble occurs.
Treatment For Pneumonia Caused By Fungus
If the condition is mild in nature and the person has good immunity, the disease heals rapidly without any treatment.
However increased use of immunosuppressive agents and the emergence of HIV infection are the main causes of fungal pneumonia in many patients. The rate of mortality is high in such patients. Anti fungal treatment may be necessary in these patients.
- In chemotherapy or bone marrow transplants, it is necessary to improve neutropenia, to prevent fungal infection.
- Withdrawal of steroids is another important thing necessary to promote recovery from the opportunistic fungal organisms.
- Surgical debridement along with anti fungal treatment may be necessary in some severe cases.
Medical treatment needed in following fungal pneumonia infection is:
- If the infective agent for fungal pneumonia is Cryptococcosis, anti fungal therapy is suggested if the patient is immune-compromised, or he is suffering from meningitis.
- Aspergillosis: Treatment is needed in patient with low immunity, persistent fever not responding to broad spectrum antibiotics, mortality rate in patients suffering from AIDS is very high. The same is the case with patients with bone marrow transplants. Surgical debridement is necessary, reduction in immunosuppressive agents and corticosteroids is necessary for better recovery.
- Candidiasis: Treatment is indicated in invasive disease. Reduce the immunosuppressive agents, steroid use and urinary catheter.
- Blastomycosis: Indication of treatment is recurrence of pneumonia, symptoms persisting and involving the pleura of the lungs.
Besides this, home remedies such as use of garlic, carrot, spinach juice, cucumber juice, butter milk are effective.
Fenugreek and sesame seeds are also effective home remedies for pneumonia.
Preventive measures are also important and they include hand washing with soap and water, discontinuation of smoking, prevent stress ulcers and keeping the immune system very strong.