What Is Histoplasmosis?
July 27, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

What Is Histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis is a lung infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. The fungus is mainly present in the soil that contains high amounts of bird and bat droppings and is common in Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. When soil is disturbed, the fungal spores float into the air, the person inhaling this contaminated air is at a greater risk for developing the infection.

Treatment is mostly not required, but in case of severe infection, i.e. in infants or individuals having weak immune systems, rapid treatment is needed. The disease may spread from the lungs to other organs of the body and develop skin lesions and other symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, chills, etc.

What are the symptoms of histoplasmosis?

Most people suffering from the disease do not show any signs or symptoms, but in case of severe infections, a variety of serious symptoms occur and can be life-threatening. Some of them are mentioned below.



       Pain in the chest

       Pain throughout the body

       Dry cough

       Red bumps on lower legs


       Uncontrolled sweating

       Shortness of breath


       Loss of vision



Who is at the greatest risk for developing the infection?

Those more likely to get an infection may include:


       Poultry keepers


       Adults aged 55 or older

       Construction workers

       Pest control workers



       Demolition workers

       People having weakened immune systems such as who:

      Have AIDS/HIV.

      Have gone through an organ transplant.

      Are taking corticosteroids or TNF inhibitors for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

      Are taking immunosuppressant medications.

      Are undergoing chemotherapy.

Complications associated with histoplasmosis

These may include:

     Pericarditis: Inflammation of the pericardium

     Acute respiratory distress syndrome: air sacs become filled with fluid which causes difficulty in breathing

     Adrenal insufficiency: this hormone is essential for the regulation of blood pressure

     Meningitis: inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

Is it preventable?

The following steps must be taken to prevent the disease:

       Avoid keeping birds such as pigeons, parrots or chickens at home

       Avoid taking projects that might expose you to the areas containing fungus, such as cave exploring

       Soak the soil with water before digging it

       Avoid going to construction sites, renovated buildings or the areas where the disease is widespread.

What is the diagnosis of histoplasmosis?

If you are suffering from a mild case of histoplasmosis, it is difficult to diagnose it as you may not develop any symptoms. But if you have a severe infection, testing for histoplasmosis is necessary.

Blood and urine tests should be performed to confirm the diagnosis. In addition to these tests, several other samples of lung secretions, biopsied lung tissue and bone marrow are also used to search for evidence of the disease, along with many imaging tests such as chest x-rays or CT scans of your lungs.

What is the treatment of histoplasmosis?  

Treatment is not needed in mild infections. However, in case of serious infections, some oral or IV antifungal medications should be taken after consultation with your doctor. These medications are:

       Itraconazole (sporanox, omnel)


       Amphotericin B.(ambisome, amphotec)

       Fluconazole. (Diflucan)

Depending on the severity of the infection and the person’s immune status, the course of treatment can range from 3 months to 1 year. To acquire medications or to get medical advice from a professional, book an appointment at Shifa4U.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.