ABPA in the tropics - my story, and a suggestion

I was first diagnosed with ABPA around 2001. I was living in the UK and had started working in a damp, unheated and basement office with no windows. I had mild asthma, but my coughing and wheeziness gradually got worse and worse until I finally went to a private hospital and got an ABPA diagnosis.

Apart from prescribing itraconozole, my doctor obviously advised that I get out of the damp office. But he also said that if I wanted my life to be minimally-affected by ABPA, I should (if my finances permitted), emigrate to live in a hot and humid climate.

So it was that I left the UK and settled to live on the Thai island of Phuket, close to the beach. The air was clean, the climate was hot and humid, and my ABPA all but disappeared into remission, with no need for taking any medicine.

But from time to time, I mad journeys or worked for a few months in neighbouring countries, with surprising effects on my lungs:

- I worked in Yangon, Myanmar and my ABPA flared up

- I worked in Laos, and my ABPA flared up

- I worked in Myanmar again, and my ABPA flared up

BUT

- I worked in Cambodia and my ABPD did NOT flare up.

The climates were all very similar. The amount of road traffic pollution was about the same. Why was I OK in Cambodia, but not in the other locations.

After a lot of thought about my lifestyle, I identified the problem! When I stayed at my home in Phuket, I stayed in a room with fan cooling, not an air-con unit.

When in Myanmar and Laos, I stayed in hotel rooms with air-con.

But when I stayed in Cambodia, I stayed in a hotel room with no air-con

I 'Googled' Aspergillosis and air-conditioners, and found that dirty air-con filters are a major source of the fungal spores that cause/aggrevate ABPA. I was able to check the filters in my hotel room in Myanmar and indeed - the filters were filthy.

I switched off the air-con for a few days and my ABPA symptoms reduced greatly!

So, beware of dirty air-con units. Either use fan=cooling or make sure that the air con filters are cleaned every week.

Simon

2 Replies

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  • I used to know someone whose job it was was to install/repair air conditioning units - he often worked in hospitals - he said if you saw the state of them inside you would never install them in the first place . People often forget that that the air conditioning unit in your car should be professionally cleaned periodically as well.

  • Very useful advice Simon many thanks. Do you mind if I re-use your story to inform other ABPA patients of your observations, many of who will also travel. I will add it to nacpatients.org.uk

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