Symptoms and Signs of Histoplasmosis

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 7/30/2021

Doctor's Notes on Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection caused by Histoplasma capsulatum. Histoplasmosis is most commonly seen in North and Central America. In North America, the fungus lives in the soil in the central and eastern states, particularly in the areas around the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys, but it can live in other areas of North America.  People with compromised immune systems and those who come in contact with airborne particles containing the fungi (caves containing bats, bird feces, construction sites) are at greater risk of developing the illness.

The majority of people infected with histoplasmosis do not develop any symptoms. When symptoms of histoplasmosis occur they resemble pneumonia and may include fever, chest discomfort or pain, dry nonproductive cough, weakness, abdominal pain, and sweating. If histoplasmosis progresses, symptoms may include fatigue, shortness of breath, lung nodules, weight loss, vision changes, mouth ulcers, headaches, confusion, seizures, brain disease (encephalopathy), and even death.

What is the Treatment of Histoplasmosis?

Not everyone with a histoplasmosis infection will require treatment. Even in some people with symptoms, the condition will improve without treatment. However, in cases in which the infection has spread from the lungs to other parts of the body (known as disseminated histoplasmosis), chronic infections, and severe histoplasmosis of the lungs, treatment with prescription antifungal medications is typical.

The length of treatment is dependent upon the extent of disease and the individual's immune function. Treatment typically lasts for 3 months to 1 year.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.