Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis/ABPA

What is allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis?

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is an uncommon problem in the lungs caused by a severe allergic reaction after being exposed to a type of fungus called Aspergillus, commonly found in the environment. With ABPA, the allergic reaction causes the immune system to overreact to Aspergillus leading to lung inflammation. ABPA causes tightening of airway muscles and mucus buildup resulting in coughing, breathing difficulty and airway obstruction. Some people with ABPA will develop bronchiectasis, a form of airway damage that can result in worse lung function and increased risk of infection.

What are signs and symptoms of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis?

  • Coughing frequently
  • Coughing up mucus plugs that may be brown in color
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficult exercising
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fever that goes away then comes back
  • Fatigue
  • ABPA can be a rare cause of poorly controlled asthma.

What is the treatment for allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis?

An allergist can help find out if you or your child have ABPA. The diagnosis is made based on your child's symptoms and results of tests including lung function and allergy tests. Treatment is directed as controlling the inflammation to prevent further lung injury. Usually ABPA is treated with a combination of oral corticosteroids and anti-fungal medications.