Fungal Sensitization Associated With Asthma

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A number of studies have reported that being allergic to molds (fungi) (as measured by skin prick test or measurement of blood antibodies) is associated with significantly greater risk of asthma and significantly greater risk of severe asthma requiring emergency room or hospital treatment.


A recent study of 106 Ohio adults reported that skin sensitization for many common indoor and outdoor molds including Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Helmithosporium, and Pencillium are associated with greater risk of asthma, greater risk of severe asthma, and greater risk of asthma related hospitalization as compared to adults not sensitized to these molds (Hayes, Jhaveri et al. 2013) .

 

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In addition, exposure to higher indoor and outdoor humidity was associated with more asthma symptoms in these adults asthmatics sensitized to molds (fungi). It is estimated that about half of all child and adult asthmatics are significantly allergic to one or more molds. Worldwide, about 6.5 million adults have severe asthma with fungal sensitization (Denning, Pashley et al. 2014) .

Some studies have suggested that many patients with severe asthma with fungal asthma may experience better lung function and less asthma symptoms when treated with anti-fungal drugs like itraconazole (Parulekar, Diamant et al. 2015). This suggests that many asthmatics with fungal sensitization may have localized growth of molds in lungs or other parts of the body- which may respond to antifungal drugs.


References / Sources

Denning, D. W., et al. (2014). “Fungal allergy in asthma-state of the art and research needs.” Clin Transl Allergy 4: 14.

Hayes, D., Jr., et al. (2013). “The effect of mold sensitization and humidity upon allergic asthma.” Clin Respir J 7(2): 135-144.

Parulekar, A. D., et al. (2015). “Antifungals in severe asthma.” Curr Opin Pulm Med 21(1): 48-54.

 

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