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What is histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection of the lungs. The fungus can be found in soil with bird or bat droppings, such as in chimneys, attics, or caves. Histoplasmosis is most common in some parts of the United States, such as the Ohio River Valley and the Mississippi River Valley. It is also found in Mexico, and Central and South America.

What are the signs and symptoms of histoplasmosis?

Most people have no signs or symptoms. Signs or symptoms may include fever, chills, or fatigue, and are usually mild and last 2 to 3 weeks. You may also have headaches, chest pain, and a dry cough. Histoplasmosis may be more serious in babies, young children, or older adults. It may also affect people who have a weak immune system, such as from HIV, AIDS, or cancer.

How is histoplasmosis diagnosed?

  • Blood and urine tests will show if you have a histoplasmosis infection, or be used to test kidney function. The tests may also be used to give information about your overall health.
  • A sputum sample is collected and tested for histoplasmosis.
  • A biopsy is a sample of tissue taken from your lymph nodes, skin, lungs, bone, or liver. The sample is tested for fungus.

How is histoplasmosis treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms and how well your body can fight the infection. If your infection is serious, you may need the following:

  • Medicines are used to treat the fungal infection. You may also get medicine to decrease fever, pain, or swelling.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.

How do I prevent another histoplasmosis infection?

Stay away from places where the fungus grows. This includes caves, barns, chicken coops, and under bridges. It also includes chimneys and attics. If you must work in these areas, wear a mask over your mouth and nose. Wet the soil with water before you work with it. This will decrease your risk for breathing in dust and getting an infection. If you have a weak immune system, you may need to take antifungal medicine to prevent another infection.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever, chest pain, and a dry cough.
  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have shortness of breath or cough up blood.
  • You are confused or cannot think clearly.
  • You have a seizure.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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