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  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:




Aspergillosis is an infection or reaction due to a common type of fungus. It can lead to severe lung problems.

There are several types:

  • Pulmonary—Mainly affects people with long term lung problems
  • Invasive—Travels from the lungs to the bloodstream to cause a serious infection that may affect other organs
  • Allergic—Inflames airways due to an allergy to the fungus


Aspergillosis is caused by a type of fungus that is found on soil, plants, and rotting vegetables. Spores from the fungus can be released into the air and inhaled into the lungs. The immune system gets rid of the fungus in most people. Aspergillosis happens if the immune system is not working properly and cannot remove it. The fungus is able to grow and cause an infection.

In some people the fungus causes an allergic reaction.

Inhalation of Spores.

Spores in lungshttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=76337633si55551488.jpgsi55551488.jpgNULLjpgsi55551488.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551488.jpgNULL16NULL2008-12-102543907633_99634Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Things that raise the risk of aspergillosis are:

Things that raise the risk of the allergic type are:

  • A personal or family history of:
    • Asthma, hay fever, and eczema
    • Cystic fibrosis
Asthma in Lungs.

Asthma lunghttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=76267626si55551405.jpgsi55551405.jpgNULLjpgsi55551405.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551405.jpgNULL91NULL2008-12-10303400Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Symptoms may include:

  • A wet cough that lasts a long time
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever
  • Wheezing or problems breathing
  • Chest pain


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. An infection will be suspected based on symptoms. Blood, urine, and coughed up fluids may also be tested. They can help to find the cause of the infection. The results will help to guide treatment.

The doctor may also need to see how much of the lung is involved. Tests may include:


The goal of treatment is to clear the infection or inflammation. A second goal will be to lower the risk of long term harm to the lungs or organs. Treatment may include:

  • Medicines to treat the fungal infection
  • Steroids by mouth or inhaled to treat an allergic reaction
  • Surgery to remove a large mass of fungus


The fungus that causes aspergillosis is everywhere. People at high risk of infection should:

  • Avoid close contact with soil or compost
  • Avoid construction and renovation sites
  • Take steps to keep their homes free from mildew




  • Allergic brocnhopulmonary aspergillosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/allergic-bronchopulmonary-aspergillosis.
  • Aspergillosis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14770-aspergillosis.
  • Cadena J, Thompson GR 3rd, et al. Aspergillosis: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2021;35(2):415-434.
  • Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-pulmonary-aspergillosis.
  • Invasive aspergillosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/invasive-aspergillosis.


  • David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.