Fungal infections on the rise, worrying doctors

Yeast infections, also known as fungal infections, are becoming an increasingly common health problem and are starting to cause concern among some health experts. These new diseases go beyond classic skin infections such as athlete’s foot or ringworm, as other aggressive diseases are emerging that can affect vital organs such as the lungs.


Surprisingly, these infections have long been in the public spotlight. It was only last year that the World Health Organization (WHO) released its first list of mushrooms hazardous to health.

This general lack of knowledge leads to incorrect diagnosis in clinical settings and slows the development of effective treatments. Furthermore, it hinders the World Health Organization’s ability to accurately assess the global burden of these diseases. Experts say invasive fungal infections kill up to 1.5 million people each year, a number comparable to the number of people who die from tuberculosis each year.

We all are constantly breathing in fungal spores from a variety of everyday sources, such as compost bins, moldy bread in the kitchen, and even flower bulbs in the garden (more on that later).


Oliver Cornely, director of the European Center of Excellence for Invasive Fungal Infections, assures that these spores do not pose a problem for most healthy people because their immune systems can fight them without difficulty. However, for people who are immunocompromised, such as those who smoke excessively or who have recently received an organ transplant or cell therapy, inhaling these spores can cause serious health problems.

Cornely said this growth is closely related to the increasing number of life-saving surgical procedures today. As more people undergo intensive treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy, their susceptibility to invasive fungal infections increases significantly.

Furthermore, an additional problem has arisen: resistance to antifungal drugs, similar to resistance to antibiotics.

The most common invasive fungal infections are caused by Candida and Aspergillus. Aspergillus mainly affects the lungs, while Candida can spread through the bloodstream and cause infection in different organs of the body, most commonly the eyes, bones, liver or spleen.

According to Cornely, this may occur from the gastrointestinal tract. In healthy people, it’s normal for fungi to “mix with countless bacteria,” he said.

But for those who have experienced surgery or health issues that affect the integrity of our mucosals, the soft tissues that line our organs and protect them from pathogens, these fungal organisms may become pathogens themselves.

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