You Have Fungi in Your Lungs, and That’s OK

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

FRIDAY April 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) – There is more than one type of fungus living in lung tissue, but people can breathe easily knowing that these species are mostly harmless, scientists say.

It’s normal for people to have fungus in their lungs and using drugs like inhaled steroids won’t harm them, a research team has found.

According to a team led by Einar Marius Hjellestad Martinsen, a doctoral student at the University of Bergen in Norway, healthy lungs have long been thought to be sterile, with only diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) allowing microorganisms to enter it and survive. .

Now, several microorganisms have been shown to reside in the lungs of healthy people as well.

In this study, Norwegian researchers analyzed lung and mouth samples from nearly 200 people with and without COPD.

“Healthy and diseased lungs had a different fungal makeup than the mouth, suggesting that the lungs have a unique fungal environment,” Hjellestad Martinsen said in an academic press release.

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Candida was the dominant fungus in the lungs. Researchers found no difference in fungal communities between people with healthy lungs and those with COPD, and no difference between COPD patients who used inhaled steroids and those who did not.

According to the researchers, it should be noted that inhaled steroids do not appear to affect the fungal composition in the lungs.

They also said the prevalence and severity of fungal infections had increased in recent years, and said their finding that Candida is often found in healthy lungs may be of particular importance.

Candida is part of the normal flora of many mucous membranes and can cause illnesses such as thrush in the mouth or vagina.

“It would be of great interest to further examine whether fungal lung infections are caused by fungi already present in the lungs,” said Hjellestad Martinsen.

“If so, the focus should be on these fungi to reveal the triggers responsible for their conversion, which are ‘friendly residents’ of our lungs into pathogenic intruders,” he added.

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The results were published on April 7 in the journal PLOS ONE.

More information

The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more information on COPD.

SOURCE: University of Bergen, press release, April 7, 2021

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