Fungal infection is generally speaking slower in coming on than bacterial infection, but when it is systemic it is as devastating. Many fungal infections or mycoses (another name for them) are opportunistic infections. In other words, they are part of the normal flora on the skin, in the gastrointestinal tract or in the airway passages, but a dysbalance with overuse of antibiotics or with the use of corticosteroids will overpopulate them and give them a signal to invade and cause disease. Corticosteroids may be needed for treatment of severe asthma, for bad arthritis, or in combination with chemotherapy in cancer patients.
The immune system is weakened in this case and the cellular immune response in particular is hampered so that the system cannot fight fungal infection as well. Other causes for fungal infections are chronic diseases or conditions such as in patients with AIDS, tuberculosis, leukemia and other illnesses where the immune system is overtaxed or paralyzed. Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney failure or extensive burns are all at a high risk for developing fungal infection. In the following outline I will only mention some of the more important fungal infections.
Common Fungal Infections
Aspergillosis : sinusitis or swimmer’s ear, treated with chronic antibiotics, may start this
Blastomycosis : starts in lungs, can get disseminated
Coccidioidomycosis : antibody titer helps define severity
Cryptococchosis : this is a common fungal infection in AIDS
Histoplasmosis : lungs affected, but can cause blindness in an eye through systemic spread
Mycetoma : also known as Madura foot
Other fungal infections : chromomycosis, phaeohyphomycosis, mucormycosis are some examples
Paracoccidioidomycosis : skin ulcerations around nostrils and mouth, fistulas from lymph glands
Sporotrichosis : skin prick from rose bush can cause it
Yeast infection (=Candidiasis) : likely the most common fungal infection with many different manifestations
Above you find some of the common fungal infections; click on the links in the left upper margin for more details regarding these fungal infections (also see Ref. 1).
1.The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beer s et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999. Chapter 158.
2.The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beers et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999. Chapter 113.
3. The Merck Manual, 7th edition, by M. H. Beers et al., Whitehouse Station, N.J., 1999. Chapter 164.