Allergic fungal infection
All allergic fungal infections affect the upper or lower respiratory tract, although in a sense all allergies are generalised. There can be an inflammatory component to some skin and mucosal fungal infections, but this is not usually driven predominantly by IgE, eosinophils, mast cells and basophils, the key features of allergic disease.
Many allergies are mild and have a minor affect of health. This section focuses on those that have a major impact on health. Rarely is a person only allergic to one or more fungi; typically affected people have multiple allergies. Some disease states increase the rate of allergies, notably HIV infection and cystic fibrosis but this appears to only be relevant for fungal infection in terms of Aspergillus allergy in cystic fibrosis.
An allergic tendency (or atopy) is often apparent early in life, but can change with age. For example many children with asthma ‘grow out of it’, although some develop it again as they get older. The long term natural history of fungal allergy is not well documented. Some people have allergic fungal infection that comes and goes in severity, usually for unclear reasons. Mucus production and mucosal swelling in the airways, nose and sinuses is the hallmark of fungal allergy.
Most allergic fungal infection probably has an important genetic component.
The important allergic fungal infections are: