What is aspiration pneumonia?
Aspiration pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes caused by inhaling foreign material, usually food, drink, vomit, or secretions from the mouth into the lungs. This may progress to form a collection of pus in the lungs (lung abscess). Aspiration pneumonia is a form of pneumonia that can develop when foreign material, such as food, liquid, vomit,
or mucus, is accidentally inhaled into the lungs. This can happen when a person is unconscious or has a seizure or when a stroke has affected the person's ability to swallow.
Aspiration of foreign material (often the stomach contents) into the lung can be a result of disorders that affect normal swallowing, disorders of the esophagus (esophageal stricture, gastroesophageal reflux), or decreased or absent gag reflex (in unconscious, or semi-conscious individuals). Old age, dental problems, use of sedative drugs, anesthesia, coma, and excessive alcohol consumption are also causal or contributing factors. The response of the lungs depends upon the characteristics and amount of the aspirated substance. The more acidic the material, the greater the degree of lung injury, although this may not necessary lead to pneumonia. The injured lungs can become infected with multiple species of anaerobic bacteria or aerobic bacteria. A collection of pus may form in the lung. A protective membrane may form around the abscess.
This form of pneumonia is more common in people who have become weakened by illnesses that affect their ability to swallow or whose immune systems are impaired by disease or medications. People who have aspiration pneumonia are usually treated in a hospital with antibiotics. The usual site for an aspiration pneumonia is the right lung. Aspirated material will enter the lower lobes when the patient is standing. If the patient is supine then the aspirated material will enter the apical segment of the lower lobes or the posterior segment of the upper lobes.
Hospitalization may be required for management of the illness. Treatment measures vary depending on the severity of the pneumonia. Oxygen therapy and antibiotic medications are the standard treatments for aspiration pneumonia. Antibiotics are given through a vein. A ventilator, or artificial breathing machine, may be needed to keep an open airway and provide oxygen. The trachea may need suctioning to clear secretions and aspirated particles out of the airway.
More information on pneumonia
What is pneumonia? - Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, or other organisms.
What types of pneumonia are there? - Types of pneumonia are bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, aspiration (or inhalation) pneumonia.
What is walking pneumonia? - Walking pneumonia is pneumonia that is usually mild enough that the child does not have to stay in bed.
What is aspiration pneumonia? - Aspiration pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs and bronchial tubes caused by inhaling foreign material.
What is bacterial pneumonia? - Bacterial pneumonia is pneumonia caused by bacteria. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia.
What is viral pneumonia? - Viral pneumonia is caused by various viruses. Viral pneumonia is usually milder than bacterial pneumonia.
What is bronchial pneumonia? - Bronchial pneumonia is when the pneumonia spreads to several patches in one or both lungs.
What is community-acquired pneumonia? - Community-acquired pneumonia occurs most commonly in very young and very old people.
What is hospital-acquired pneumonia? - Hospital-acquired pneumonia, also called nosocomial pneumonia, is an infection that patients get while they're in the hospital.
What is atypical pneumonia? - Atypical pneumonia is a pneumonia that does not respond to the usual antibiotic treatment.
What causes pneumonia? - Pneumonia is caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites or other organisms such as Streptococcus pneumoniae.
What're the risk factors for pneumonia? - Alcohol or drug abuse is strongly associated with pneumonia. The elderly and infants and young children are at greater risk of pneumonia.
What're the complications of pneumonia? - Complications of pneumonia that may occur include buildup of fluid in the space between the lung and chest wall.
What are the symptoms of pneumonia? - Symptoms of pneumonia are shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, shallow, and fever and chills.
How is pneumonia diagnosed? - The diagnosis of pneumonia is usually made from a medical history, a physical examination, and a chest X-ray.
What's the treatment for pneumonia? - Treatment of pneumonia consists of respiratory support, including O2 if indicated, and antibiotics.
How to prevent pneumonia? - Vaccines are available to protect against pneumococcal pneumonia, pneumonia caused by the bacterium.