People with asthma who suffer allergic reactions towards a common mould actually have the mould growing in their lungs.
The team based in the Institute for Lung Health at the University of Leicester and Glenfield Hospital examined the impact on asthmatics of a common environmental mould, Aspergillus fumigates, usually found in soil and compost heaps.
Researchers carried out the study to determine whether the problem of A. fumigatus growing in the lungs is more common than previously thought, and whether this could explain the fixed narrowing of the airways that occurs in some people with asthma.
Andy Wardlaw from the University of Leicester, said, "Our study showed that 6 out of 10 people with asthma who were allergic to A. fumigatus grew the mould from their sputum. We also found that if you were allergic to A. fumigatus you had more narrowing of the airways than if you were not allergic, and this was worse in patients from whom A. fumigatus was grown."
"Our research concluded that it is possible that fixed narrowing of breathing tubes in many people with asthma could be caused by A. fumigatus growing in their lungs.
"Treating individuals from whom A. fumigatus is detected with antibiotics against the mould may prevent fixed narrowing of the airways.," he said.
The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.