Most fungi encountered by humans are harmless saprophytes (organisms that derive their food from dead and decaying material). However, there are some species of fungus that may infect human tissues or promote an allergic reaction. Fungal infection in lungs is caused by direct invasion of the fungus in the pulmonary tissue.
Person with a weak immune system is most vulnerable for fungal infection in lungs. Systemic factors that predispose to fungal infection in lungs include certain metabolic disorders, diabetes mellitus, HIV infection, person taking anti cancer therapy, person suffering from leukemia, and kidney failure.
Types Of Fungal Infection In Lungs
Aspergillosis: this is the most common fungi that infect human lungs. The spores of this fungus are inhaled from the air. Once they enter the respiratory tract, they lodge and grow in the pulmonary cysts or healed tubercular cavities, dilated bronchi, and lung abscess. In most cases they remain localized to the original site, but occasionally when the immune system is low, the fungus can spread to adjacent normal lung.
When the pre-existing fungal cavity gets infected by aspergillosis fungus, it produces a tumor like opacity (fungus ball) on the X-ray. However, there are certain criteria through which a doctor can differentiate between lung cancer and fungal opacity. Recurrent hemoptysis is one of the symptoms that is present with aspergillosis fungus in the lungs.
Candidosis fungal lung infection: Candida albicans normally affects the skin and digestive system, however in certain circumstances such as due to suppression of bacterial flora by antibiotics, it may cause oral thrush. Occasionally in a debilitated person, the lesion from the mouth can extend downwards into the respiratory system causing bronchial and pulmonary candidosis.
Other funguses that may rarely involve the lungs include cryptococcosis, blastomycosis, nocardiosis etc.
Symptoms Of Fungal Lung Infections
In most cases if the infection is mild it may not manifest any symptoms at all. As the infection becomes more severe, it may present with following symptoms:
- Fever: regular fever in a person with low immune level raises suspicion for a lung infection.
- Persistent cough that is dry with discomfort in chest.
- Breathlessness, especially with mild exertion.
- Hemoptysis (blood in sputum) is one of the significant symptoms indicating fungal lung infection.
- Swelling of lymphnodes in the lungs causes difficulty in breathing.
- There may be associated allergic asthma symptom.
When the disease is not controlled or if it spreads to other organs it may give rise to bone and joint pains, meningitis, brain abscess, fungal sinusitis, kidney and liver lesions.
Diet For Fungal Infections
Diet plays an important role when your immune system is compromised; it helps to enhance the immunity as well as helps the body to combat diseases. As with any other fungal disease, a person suffering from fungal lung infection has to eat food that is abundantly packed with vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamins A, C, E, mineral zinc, iron, calcium etc. are necessary to boost your immunity. Eat fruits that are rich in vitamin C such as oranges, grapes, grapefruit, melons, lemons, mangoes, kiwi fruit, apple, etc.
- Eat raw garlic and onion. You can also add them in your meals. They possess natural antifungal properties useful in curtailing the fungus infection.
- Yogurt and butter milk can be added in your diet to aid in curing the fungal infection.
Treatment For Fungal Infection In Lungs
Before initiating the treatment for fungal infection in the lungs it is necessary to establish the diagnosis. Routine blood examination together with blood culture, sputum examination, MRI of the chest, fine needle biopsy, bronchoscopy etc. may help in the diagnosis.
- Once the cause is determined as aspergillosis fungus infection of the lung; anti fungal medication are prescribed to the patient.
- At times when the fungus ball damages the internal structures of the lung and cause bleeding, it has to be removed surgically.
- Garlic, cloves, and cinnamon can be included in regular diet as they are fungus fighting herbs.
- Traditional Tanzanian herb extracts such as Cineraria grandiflora, Coccinia adoensis, Marattia fraxinea etc. are known to fight common fungi infections such as Candida, aspergillus etc.