Germs in the lungs or airways: how deadly is aspiration pneumonia?

Pneumonia is rather serious condition, which occurs when germs enter the lungs and become infected.

In some cases, food, saliva, vomit or stomach acid may travel into the respiratory organs, instead of being swallowed.

Normally, cough and gag reflex help prevent aspiration of all these stuff. But in those, who have problems with defensive mechanisms, unwanted particles may be inhaled that often causes aspiration pneumonia.

This commonly happens in people with weakened immune response, neurological disorders, some types of cancer and autoimmune conditions like myasthenia gravis, Parkinson’s disease.

Those, who have developed permanent problems after stroke, as well as alcohol-abuse individuals and drug-users may aspirate some objects too.

Ability to cough and swallow may be also affected in individuals, who suffer esophageal diseases, get muscle relaxers, experience seizures or stay in coma.

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Aspiration pneumonia may manifest in various symptoms, including chest pain, troubles swallow, shortness of breath, wheezing, profuse sweating and bluish skin.

Having any of these complaints means that you should contact with medical professional without delay.

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This health issue may result in really serious complications, especially if not treated properly for a long time.

It’s not uncommon that infection forms pus-filled abscesses in the lungs or spreads to other parts of the body.

In advanced cases, aspiration pneumonia may result in shock and respiratory failure.

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The big problem is also that diseases that impair swallowing and promote inflammation may worsen pneumonia and interfere with healing processes.

Aspiration pneumonia is a potentially life-threatening condition, so doctors act as soon as possible to diagnose this disorder and prescribe optimal treatment. People with immunodeficiency have much higher risks of getting complications than others.

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Once doctor has suspected pneumonia during physical examination, he or she will most likely perform different tests like X-rays, computer tomography with contrast, sputum culture test, blood test and bronchoscopy, in order to find the main reason of your illness.

To get rid of infection or prevent its occurrence, specialists often recommend taking antibiotics. To support normal breathing, mechanical ventilation and inhalation of supplemental oxygen may be used.

credit: freepik


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