Every Thursday at 11am (UK time), we hold an online video call meeting open to all aspergillosis patients and carers. This means that you can meet others in the aspergillosis community, even if you live too far to travel to local meetings. The group is very friendly and open, and you are free to chat about anything!
To come along and chat with this friendly group of Aspergillus veterans:
Go to https://zoom.us/meeting/register/uJwkdeuupzIoYvkMpv-N3aMQtDQwEYLXIg and follow the instructions – Google Chrome browser works well. You can also dial in by phone using a local number in dozens of countries – to do this click on the link above and then ‘Join audio’ (bottom left) – you can choose from a long list of phone numbers’
Travelling through airports with an invisible illness can be difficult, as it may not be obvious to others that you need extra time or assistance. The experience can be stressful and anxious for some, and it may be hard to explain your hidden symptoms. This is why several airports in the UK have implemented a scheme, so that those with invisible illnesses can order a sunflower lanyard to wear through the airport. These lanyards make the wearer more visible so that they can travel independently, but access help quickly if needed. Some supermarkets are also trialing this scheme.
The Aspergillosis Trust and its supporters have organised several events and ongoing fundraisers to raise money for the Fungal Infection Trust (FIT). Click on the link below to donate money, keep up to date with fundraising events or even think about organising your own!
Azole antifungals are the first-line of treatment or prophylaxis for many fungal infections. They are often administered long-term (weeks to months), which can be associated with a number of adverse effects. In patients receiving several medications, it can be difficult to identify whether antifungals are contributing to, or causing particular symptoms; recognition of common side effects, leading to treatment discontinuation or management, is therefore key to reducing symptoms and reversing toxicity. A recent review by Dr Lydia Benitez and Dr Peggy Carver summarises these effects and their frequency:
Key points the authors highlight:
Liver toxicity, generally reversible, is common with all azoles.
Hormone-related adverse effects are observed with select azoles; these include hair loss, breast enlargement, decreased libido, impotence, and (rarely) adrenal insufficiency (beware drug interactions with inhaled and oral steroids).
Patients with fair skin on voriconazole should use liberal amounts of broad spectrum UV protectants and wear sun protective clothing, avoid excess sunlight, and undergo frequent monitoring of skin as phototoxic reactions progressing to development of skin cancer has been associated with long-term use.
Therapeutic drug monitoring may be utilized to minimise neuropathies in specific patient populations on voriconazole, as neuropathies are more common with higher concentrations and doses. Its role in preventing other long-term toxicities is less clear.
Azoles are a valuable resource in the treatment and prophylaxis for fungal infections. Despite being associated with a number of adverse effects, they are safer and more active than alternatives. Thorough knowledge of the side effects they may cause is therefore important, so that they can be recognised and managed promptly.