Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as Valley fever, is an infection that occurs when the fungus Coccidioidesimmitis enters the body from inhaling it.
Coccidioidomycosis is a common fungal infection found in southwest of the United States and in Central and South America. It is acquired from inhaling the spores from infected soil thus the infection originating from the lungs. When considering traveling to these parts, always come prepared in protecting yourself by being healthy and drinking generous amounts of Vitamin C to protect yourself and develop your body’s immune system function.
Not only can you acquire coccidioidomycosis from inhaling infected soil; this can also be acquired by a weakened immune system. A weakened immune system is caused by certain diseases such as cancer or from treatment of cancer like chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which mainly suppresses the immune system. Diabetes can also increase the chances of suppressing your immune system. Intake of corticosteroid medications such as prednisone can also suppress the immune system. HIV and AIDS also increase the risk of coccidioidomycosis.
How can you spot coccidioidomycosis? The common symptoms of coccidioidomycosis may not appear at all. Others may just appear as the common flu-like symptoms thus leading to mistreatment. Common mild symptoms may appear such as these:
• Cough with blood tinged sputum
• Fever and sweating at night
• Stiffness on joints and swelling on the ankle, feet and legs
• Muscle pains
• Loss of appetite
• Painful and red lumps on the lower extremities
In rare cases, the infection can spread from the lungs to the bloodstream through the heart’s pumping action to evenly distribute the blood in the body. People can become very sick due to the widespread of the disease. Symptoms may include:
• Altered mental status
• Swelling of the joints
• Enlargement of the lymph nodes
• Photophobia or sensitivity to light
• Stiffness of the neck
• Massive weight loss
• Severity of the respiratory symptoms
To confirm the presence of coccidioidomycosis, you must consult your physician about your symptoms. You may undergo certain tests to confirm coccidioidomycosis. Milder tests can be done like a blood test to confirm the presence of the Coccidioidesimmitisin the blood, chest x-ray to verify any enlargement of the structure of the lung and/or sputum culture and sensitivity. If the lymph node has been enlarged, a biopsy can be done to verify the presence of the fungus. Biopsy of the lung or liver can also be done.
Tips and comments
Treatment of coccidioidomycosis can be symptomatic. The disease can almost go without treatment depending of the severity of the disease. Bed rest and fluids is highly recommended to relieve coccidioidomycosis. Some may require antifungal treatment such as intake of medications like amphotericin B or fluconazole, depending on the recommendation from the health care provider. It is best to inquire your doctor about your medications and to have your prescription ready on hand.
The prognosis of coccidioidomycosis is likely to be good. With proper rest and relief of symptoms, you will be back to normal as long as the fungi in the body disappear. For people with widespread of the disease, there can be complications like collection of pus or fluid in the lung leading to lung collapse and eventually death. People with the widespread of the disease may die for more complications and spread of infection.
Protect yourself against coccidioidomycosis. It always helps to be safe than sorry. So to prevent complications, consult your physician about coccidioidomycosis so you will be able to prevent complications from occurring in the future.
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