Aspiration pneumonia is an inflammation of your lungs and bronchial tubes. It happens after you inhale foreign matter. It is also known as anaerobic pneumonia.
This condition is caused by inhaling materials such as vomit, food, or liquid. This leads to a bacterial infection. The bacteria are different from those seen in more common types of pneumonia.
Causes of this condition include:
Inhaling acidic materials can cause severe injury to the lungs. This may not lead to a lung infection. However, it still requires medical attention and treatment.
The highest risk of this condition is seen in elderly individuals with a history of:
People with heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) also are at increased risk.
Symptoms of this condition are similar to other types of pneumonia. They include:
Contact your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. When you do, let your doctor know if you have recently inhaled any food or liquids.
A physical exam may also find additional symptoms, such as:
If you think you might have this condition, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can make a big difference in your recovery.
To diagnose you, your doctor will run a series of tests. These may include:
Your doctor may also need to test your ability to swallow.
Your treatment will depend on the severity of your pneumonia. The first line of treatment will probably be antibiotics. Severe pneumonia may need to be treated in the hospital.
Choosing the right antibiotics can be difficult. The bacteria that cause this condition may be hard to identify. There are some things your doctor will need to know to identify the appropriate medication:
People with trouble swallowing may need to stop taking food by mouth.
Many people who have this condition also have other diseases that affect swallowing. Diseases such as Parkinsons and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can affect recovery.
If treatment is acquired promptly, this condition rarely causes complications. Your overall prognosis depends on:
Without correct treatment, pneumonia can cause long term problems. Lung abscess and inflammatory problems may occur. Some people will develop acute respiratory failure. This could be fatal.
You can reduce your risk of this condition by: