Aspiration pneumonia (patient information)
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Aspiration pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs and airways to the lungs (bronchial tubes) from breathing in foreign material. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when foreign materials (usually food, liquids, vomit, or fluids from the mouth) are breathed into the lungs or airways leading to the lungs. This may lead to:
- A collection of pus in the lungs (lung abscess)
- Swelling and inflammation in the lung
- A lung infection (pneumonia)
What are the symptoms?
- Bluish discoloration of the skin caused by lack of oxygen
- Chest pain
- Cough with
Other symptoms that can occur with this disease:
What causes Aspiration pneumonia?
Risk factors for aspiration or breathing in of foreign material into the lungs are:
- Being less alert due to medicines, illness, or other reasons
- Disorders of the esophagus, the tube that moves food from the mouth to the stomach (esophageal stricture, gastroesophageal reflux)
- Drinking large amounts of alcohol
- Medicine to put you into a deep sleep for surgery (general anesthesia)
- Old age
- Poor gag reflex in people who are not alert (unconscious or semi-conscious) after a stroke or brain injury
- Problems with swallowing
Who is at highest risk?
- Patients with decreased immunity
- Bed-ridden patients
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call your health care provider, go to the emergency room, or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have:
A physical examination may reveal:
The following tests may also help diagnose this condition:
- Arterial blood gas
- Blood culture
- Chest x-ray
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- CT scan of the chest
- Sputum culture
- Swallowing studies
Some people may need to be hospitalized. Treatment depends on the severity of the pneumonia. You may receive antibiotics, which treat bacteria. Some people may get special antibiotics to treat bacteria that live in the mouth. The type of bacteria that caused the pneumonia depends on:
- Your health
- Where you live (at home or in a long-term nursing facility, for example)
- Whether you've recently been hospitalized
- Recent antibiotic use
Where to find medical care for Aspiration pneumonia?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
The outcome depends on:
- The severity of the pneumonia
- The type of bacteria causing the pneumonia
- How much of the lungs are involved
If acute respiratory failure develops, the patient may have a long-term illness or die. Many people who have aspiration pneumonia have other serious health problems, which may affect the outlook for recovery.
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Low blood pressure
- Pneumonia with lung abscess
- Spread of infection to the bloodstream (bacteremia)
- Spread of infection to other areas of the body