ABPA is an allergic reaction to a particular type of fungus that can further complicate CF lung disease. It occurs in 25-35% of people with cystic fibrosis.
ABPA develops when a person breathes air containing Aspergillus spores. Aspergillus is a fungus, commonly found in the environment, including soil, compost piles, and water. People with cystic fibrosis should avoid long-term exposure to, among other things, haystacks, wet or rotting vegetation, bogs, marshes, riverbeds and construction sites. Aspergillus can trigger an allergic reaction producing symptoms similar to those of cystic fibrosis and asthma – coughing, wheezing, and coughed-up sputum.
If a person with cystic fibrosis suddenly experiences pulmonary problems, a skin prick allergy test can measure IgE (anti-allergy molecules) levels specific to Aspergillus. Also, an X-ray may show increased fluid in the lung. It is very important to get ABPA screened and diagnosed as soon as possible.
Drugs such as oral corticosteroids or anti-fungals (standard treatment) are taken until IgE levels return to normal. ABPA can be eliminated with proper treatment and early diagnosis.
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