Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergilllosis (ABPA) is an allergic reaction in the lungs caused by the growth of a fungus, Aspergillus. This fungus causes inflammation (swelling), airway obstruction and mucus plugging. Eventually, this can lead to bronchiectasis (abnormal widening of the bronchial tubes), fibrosis (scarring) of the lungs and impaired respiratory function.
ABPA usually occurs in individuals with asthma or cystic fibrosis. The typical symptoms are asthma, coughing that produces brown mucus and occasionally blood, fever and a general sense of not feeling well. The diagnostic evaluation includes blood tests such as eosinophils (white blood cell count) and antibody levels for Aspergillus. Skin testing for Aspergillus is helpful, as is a high resolution CT scan of the chest.
Treatment of ABPA typically includes oral steroids (such as prednisone) for several weeks, sometimes in conjunction with an antifungal medication.