What're the symptoms of empyema?The signs and symptoms of empyema vary somewhat according to the location of the infection and its severity. In empyema
thoracis, patients usually exhibit symptoms of pneumonia, including fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain. They may prefer to lie on the side of the body affected by the empyema. Family members may notice bad breath. In severe cases, the patient may become dehydrated, cough up blood or greenish-brown sputum, run a fever as high as 105°F (40.6°C), or fall into a coma. Patients with thoracic empyema may develop potentially life-threatening complications if the condition is not treated. The infected tissues may develop large collections of pus (abscesses) that can rupture into the patient's airway, or the infection may spread to the tissues surrounding the heart. In extreme cases the empyema may spread to the brain by means of bacteria carried in the bloodstream. In pelvic empyema, the infection produces large amounts of thick, foul-smelling pus that is rapidly replaced even after drainage. Empyema of the gallbladder is marked by intense pain on the upper right side of the abdomen, high fever, and rigidity of the muscles over the infected area. A subdural empyema can cause headache, sleepiness, seizures, and other signs of brain dysfunction. The symptoms can evolve over several days, and without treatment, they progress rapidly to coma and death.