To give you the basics, the term 'pneumonia' is used to refer to the inflammation of lungs. In most people, this is triggered by an infection. Now this infection could be caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and even parasites; of which bacteria and viruses tend to be the most common offenders. But pneumonia is not only a result of a pathogen invasion, but it can also be a repercussion of an intrusion of foreign matters into the lungs.
What is Aspiration Pneumonia?
The term 'aspiration' is defined as the act of inhaling, and as discussed above, we know what pneumonia is. So what can be inferred from this is, inhaling certain foreign matter into the lungs, can cause inflammation of the lungs. In most cases, as it has been observed by doctors, when a person vomits, some contents of the stomach accidentally get into the lungs. And the main reason behind this is a malfunctioning gag reflex, that can result from a trauma to the brain.
Also, serious neurological diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson's disease, and illnesses such as stroke may also cause a person to aspirate foreign matters thus, inflaming the lungs, and giving rise to various unpleasant symptoms. Other possible factors that may cause the gag reflux to function improperly may include old age, dental issues, sedatives, and coma.
Treatment Guidelines for Aspiration Pneumonia
The treatment aims at getting rid of the foreign substance that has been aspirated. Also, other procedures are undertaken to reduce complications. A procedure that is commonly employed for treating aspiration pneumonia in children or adults is a procedure called bronchoscopy. With the help of this technique, the doctor is able to view the inside of the lungs' airways.
To perform this, the doctor inserts a long flexible tube known as bronchoscope (with an eye piece at one end, and light source at the other) into the lungs through the nose or mouth. But before this, the patient is usually given a drug that would help in numbing the throat, so that the procedure can be carried out easily. So by taking a closer look at the lung tissues, the doctor is able to detect the presence of any foreign matter, lung infection, or other diseases.
After diagnosing the problem, the next step in the treatment would be suctioning of the upper airways. This would help in eliminating traces of foreign materials in the lungs. Besides, the above methods, the patient might also be treated with a class of medications known as bronchodilators. These are given with a purpose to relax the muscles that line the bronchioles in the lungs. This helps in opening the air passages thus, relieving wheezing, and difficulty in breathing.
In some people, especially those with a compromised immune system, this condition may cause severe issues in respiration. So for them, assisted mechanical ventilation may also be an important inclusion in the treatment. Although not in all cases, antibiotics may be required to be administered in order to avoid any secondary bacterial infections, that might occur due to the aspirated contents into the lungs.
Cough suppressants, and clear liquids also form a part of the treatment of aspiration pneumonia. And above all, taking plenty of rest is also essential to help the body buy some time to heal itself from the illness. In case, you should come across some more information regarding this condition, feel free to add it to this article. The comment box always awaits your opinions! Take care!