Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are caused by hundreds of fungi that exist in our everyday environment. Most people can be exposed to fungi regularly without an adverse reaction, but certain conditions can cause the fungi to overgrow and cause symptoms. Those conditions include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Travel to an environment with excessive fungi
  • Outbreak of fungi due to changes in the environment, such as construction
  • Introduction of new fungi to an environment

Diagnosing fungal infections

Diagnosis of a fungal infection will begin with a physical exam and discussion of your symptoms. For a fungal skin infection, your physician may take a scraping of your skin, a hair sample or a nail clipping for analysis at a lab to determine the type of fungus causing the infection.

For fungal infections affecting other parts of the body, your physician may take a sample of bodily fluids, including:

  • Blood
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Sputum (the mucus in your respiratory system)
  • Urine
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord)

In some cases, your physician may take a biopsy (tissue sample) of the affected organ. In the case of fungal masses in the respiratory system, an X-ray can help determine the amount of tissue damage.

Diagnostic Tests