Pulmonary (Lung) Histoplasmosis

Pulmonary (Lung) Histoplasmosis

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Pulmonary (Lung) Histoplasmosis

What is Pulmonary Histoplasmosis?

Pulmonary histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. Parts of the fungus, called spores, are inhaled into the lungs. This fungus can be found in soil or other material with bird or bat droppings. In the U.S., it is most common in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. Those most likely to have serious problems with this disease are:

  • Infants

  • Young children

  • Older adults

  • Those with long-term lung problems or weakened immune systems

Outline of human head and chest with head turned to side. Inside of nose, trachea, and lungs are visible. Fungus is being breathed in to nose and lungs.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Histoplasmosis

Many people with this lung infection have no symptoms. Often, the diagnosis is first suggested by a chest X-ray done for another purpose. If symptoms do occur, they may include: fever, chills, dry cough, and chest pain. Some people also have joint pain.

Diagnosing Pulmonary Histoplasmosis

You may have one or more of the following tests:

  • Blood and urine tests may help diagnose the problem.

  • Sputum cultures check mucus that is coughed up from the lungs for the fungus.

  • Imaging tests, such as chest X-ray, or CT scan, or MRI scans of the lungs.

  • Biopsy checks small samples of lung tissue for the fungus.

Treating Pulmonary Histoplasmosis

Many people require no treatment. The infection may go away on its own.  You may be prescribed antifungal medications that are either injected into a vein (intravenous) or taken by mouth (oral). You may need to take the medications for months. Your health care provider can tell you more about your condition, treatment, and what to expect.

Preventing Pulmonary Histoplasmosis

You can reduce your risk of exposure to this infection. Avoid places with large amounts of bird or bat droppings. If you need to work in these areas, wear a protective breathing mask.

When to Call Your Health Care Provider

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever

  • Chest pain

  • Coughing up blood

  • Shortness of breath

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

  • Symptoms that don’t get better with treatment