#Coronavirus

What Is Nasal Aspergillosis? All You Need To Know

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What Is Nasal Aspergillosis? Vadodra has 262 patients who are undergoing treatment for mucormycosis in two government hospitals-SSG and Gotri medical college. In SSG, at least eight patients with nasal aspergillosis have been admitted in the past week. The aspergillosis fungal infection has been detected in both COVID-19 positive patients as well as those who have recovered from the disease.

What is nasal aspergillosis?

Aspergillosis is an infection caused by a type of fungus called aspergillus. The illness resulting from this infection affects the respiratory system. The signs and severity, however, vary greatly. The fungus, aspergillus which triggers the illness can be found both indoors and outdoors. Most of its strains are harmless but a few can cause serious illness. This can happen when people with weakened immune systems suffering from lung diseases or asthma inhale the fungal spores.

In some people, the spores trigger an allergic reaction, while others develop mild to serious lung infections. The most severe form of aspergillosis, that is, invasive aspergillosis when the infection spreads to the blood vessels and beyond. Depending on the type of infection, the treatment may involve observation, medications or even surgery.

Dr Arun Sarkar, M.D., Ranchi spoke to SheThePeople and explained, “Aspergillus is a common opportunistic fungus (fungus that does not cause infections in otherwise healthy people but can cause infection under certain circumstances such as cancer, diabetes, organ transplant etc). It causes lung and systemic infection. This type of fungus is more common than mucormycosis but not so fatal”.

Nasal aspergillosis symptoms

The symptoms of aspergillosis develop depending upon the type of illness one develops.

Invasive aspergillosis

This is the most severe form of aspergillosis. It occurs when the infection rapidly spreads from the lungs to the brain, kidney, heart or skin. It occurs only in people whose immune systems are weakened due to COVID-19, cancer chemotherapy, bone marrow transplantation, etc. This form of aspergillosis can be fatal if left untreated.

The following symptoms can be seen in patients suffering from the disease:

i) Fever and chills

ii) Hemoptysis (cough that brings up blood)

iii) Shortage of breath

iv) Headache or eye symptoms

v) Joint pain or chest pain

vi) Skin injuries

Aspergilloma

Certain lung conditions such as emphysema and tuberculosis can result in the formation of air spaces or cavities in the lungs. When people with lung cavities are infected with aspergillus, fungus fibres may find their way into the cavities and grow into fungus balls or tangled masses called aspergillomas. Initially, there may be no symptoms but with time and without treatment, it can worsen and cause:

i) Hemoptysis

ii) Wheezing

iii) Fatigue

iv) Unintentional weight loss

v) Shortness of breath

Allergic reaction

Some people suffering from asthma or cystic fibrosis have an allergic reaction to aspergillus mold. The symptoms may include:

i) Fever

ii) Hemoptysis

iii) Worsening of asthma

What Dr Sheetal Mistry says

Dr Sheetal Mistry is the COVID-19 advisor to the city and district administration of Vadodra. Talking to The Indian Express, she said that pulmonary aspergillosis is commonly seen in immuno-compromised patients but aspergillosis of sinuses is rare. “We are seeing it now in patients who have recovered from COVID or are undergoing treatment. Although aspergillosis is not as mutilating as mucormycosis, it is also invasive. the fungal infection seen these days are mostly invasive in the rhino-orbital-cerebral passage”, she said.

Mistry opines that the rise in the cases of nasal aspergillosis can be due to the use of steroids for treating COVID positive patients and the use of non-sterile water for hydrating the supply of Oxygen.