Diagnosing histoplasmosis can be complicated, depending on what parts of your body are affected. While testing might not be necessary for mild cases of histoplasmosis, it can be crucial in treating life-threatening cases.
Your doctor may suggest searching for evidence of the disease in samples of:
- Lung secretions
- Blood or urine
- Biopsied lung tissue
- Bone marrow
Treatment usually isn't necessary if you have a mild case of histoplasmosis. But if your symptoms are severe or if you have the chronic or disseminated form of the disease, you'll likely need treatment with one or more antifungal drugs. If you have a severe form of the disease, you might need to continue to take medications for three months to a year.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your primary care provider, who might refer you to a specialist in infectious diseases. Depending on your symptoms and the severity of your infection, you might also see other doctors, such as a lung specialist (pulmonologist) or a heart specialist (cardiologist).
What you can do
Make a list of:
- Your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment, and when they began
- Key personal information, including possible exposure to areas with numerous birds or bats
- All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including doses
- Questions to ask your doctor
For histoplasmosis, questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- How could I have gotten this infection?
- What tests do I need?
- Will I need treatment and, if so, which do you recommend?
- What side effects can I expect from treatment?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there printed materials I can have? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, including:
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Do you work outdoors?
- Have you spent time in areas with there are a lot of birds?
- Have you spent time in caves or other areas where bats might live?
Feb. 20, 2020
- Ferri FF. Histoplasmosis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2020. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 17, 2019.
- Histoplasmosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/histoplasmosis/index.html. Accessed Dec. 13, 2019.
- AskMayoExpert. Histoplasmosis. Mayo Clinic; 2019.
- Azar MM, et al. Clinical perspectives in the diagnosis and management of histoplasmosis. Clinical Chest Medicine. 2017; doi:10.1016/j.ccm.2017.04.004. Accessed Dec. 13, 2019.
- Kauffman CA. Diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary histoplasmosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 13, 2019.
- Histoplasmosis: Protecting workers at risk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2005-109/. Accessed Dec. 17, 2019.
- Histoplasmosis. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/fungi/histoplasmosis. Accessed Dec. 13, 2019.
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