Fungal sensitivity can be seen in patients with severe asthma. Asthma is characterized by airway inflammation and lung hypersensitivity. Airway inflammation can be controlled with inhaled steroids, however some patients can continue to experience symptoms even though they are on high dose steroids, long acting beta agonists and leukotriene antagonists.
Many allergens, including indoor and outdoor fungi, can exacerbate asthma. As many as 20% of patients with severe asthma will test positive for allergy to different molds or fungi. Fungal sensitivity is associated with increased asthma severity, symptoms and decreased lung function. Severe asthma with fungal sensitivity is a specific type of asthma. Although there is an association between fungal sensitivity and asthma, the exact link remains unconfirmed.
In a study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, titled Characteristics of severe asthma with fungal sensitization, researchers sought to determine the link between the two.
The results showed 29% of patients showed sensitization to at least 1 fungal allergen. The most common species were Candida, Aspergillus, Tricophyton, Penicillium, Cladosporium, Alternaria and Schizophyllum commune. In the study, the prevalence of fungal sensitization was higher than animal dander and insects.
Asthma patients with fungal sensitivity had a earlier onset of asthma and exposure to fungal allergens pose a significant risk for increased morbidity. This study indicates the importance of fungal allergens in patients with early-onset asthma.
If you suffer from severe asthma that is not well controlled with medications, it is important to determine what your allergic triggers are. Most people understand that animal dander, dust mites and pollen can worsen asthma symptoms. This study shows that fungal sensitivity can also play a significant role in worsening asthma symptoms. A board certified allergist can perform allergy testing to determine what your allergic triggers are. Many molds can worsen asthma severity and it is important to determine if you are allergic to them.