Cryptococcosis (patient information)

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Cryptococcosis

Overview

What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?

When to seek urgent medical care?

Diagnosis

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Cryptococcosis?

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

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Directions to Hospitals Treating Cryptococcosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Cryptococcosis is infection with Cryptococcus neoformans fungus.

What are the symptoms of Cryptococcosis?

Note: People with a normal immune system may have no symptoms at all.

What causes Cryptococcosis?

Cryptococcus neoformans, the fungus that causes this disease, is ordinarily found in soil. It enters and infects the body through the lungs. Once inhaled, infection with cryptococcosis may go away on its own, remain in the lungs only, or spread throughout the body (disseminate). Most cases are in people with a weakened immune system, such as those with HIV infection, taking high doses of corticosteroid medications, cancer chemotherapy, or who have Hodgkin's disease. In people with a normal immune system, the lung (pulmonary) form of the infection may have no symptoms. In people with weakened immune systems, the cryptococcus organism may spread to the brain. Neurological (brain) symptoms begin gradually. Most people with this infection have meningoencephalitis (swelling and irritation of the brain and spinal cord) when they are diagnosed. Cryptococcus is one of the most common life-threatening fungal infections in people with AIDS.

Who is at highest risk?

People who have weakened immune system are at highest risk for developing the disease.

Treatment options

Some infections require no treatment. Even so, there should be regular check-ups for a full year to make sure the infection has not spread. If there are lung lesions or the disease spreads, antifungal medications are prescribed. These drugs may need to be taken for a long time. Medications include:

Where to find medical care for Cryptococcosis?

Directions to Hospitals Treating Cryptococcosis

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Central nervous system involvement often causes death or leads to permanent damage.

When to seek urgent medical care?

Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of cryptococcosis, especially if you have a weakened immune system.

Diagnosis

Physical examination may reveal:

Tests that may be done include:

Possible complications

Prevention

Take the lowest doses of corticosteroid medications possible. Practice safe sex to reduce the risk of getting HIV and the infections associated with a weakened immune system.

Where to find medical care for Cryptococcosis?

Directions to Hospitals Treating Cryptococcosis


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