Aspiration pneumonia is also known as anaerobic pneumonia, aspiration of vomitus and necrotizing pneumonia. It is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes and lungs that is caused by inhaling foreign material.
Inhaling foreign material into the lungs may lead to an inflammatory reaction, an infection or a collection of pus in the lungs. Aspiration of foreign material into the lungs may occur with disorders that affect the esophagus or normal swallowing. Another cause is a decreased or absent gag reflex in people who are conscious or semi-conscious.
Aspiration pneumonia usually affects older people and those who are debilitated, intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, unconscious from anesthesia or a medical condition. A healthy person, who inhales a large amount of material, can also develop this condition.
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain in the chest
- Rapid heart rate
- Discoloration of the skin
- Shortness of breath
Other symptoms like excessive sweating, difficulty while swallowing and breath odor, may also be associated with aspiration pneumonia. If you experience any of the signs and symptoms noted above, please call your health care provider right away.
The tests that help diagnose this condition are:
- Swallowing studies
- Sputum culture
- X-ray of the chest
- Blood culture
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest
The treatment of aspiration pneumonia varies from one individual to another. Usually antibiotics are given to treat the pneumonia and the organisms that live in the mouth.
In case a patient has problem swallowing, then other feeding methods would have to be used. How long it takes the patient to recover depends on the type of organism, the extent of lung involvement and the severity of pneumonia.
- The infection may spread to the blood stream.
- The infection might also spread to other parts of the body.
- The pressure in the body may go down.
- The body might get into shock.
- A life-threatening condition like acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) might develop.
- It could turn into pneumonia with an abscess in the lung.
It is important to be aware of the risk of aspiration pneumonia. There are a few causes that are caused by carelessness, those can surely be avoided. Once the doctor has diagnosed the illness, it is important to follow the doctor’s instructions carefully.