Aspiration pneumonia

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Aspiration pneumonia is considered as a complication of pulmonary aspiration. When it comes to pulmonary aspiration, it occurs if an individual inhales food, saliva or stomach acid into the lungs. In some cases, one can aspirate food that moves back up from the stomach into the esophagus. Remember that all of these might carry bacteria that can affect the lungs. If the lungs are healthy, they clear up on their own. If not, pneumonia might arise as a complication.

What are the indications?

An individual with aspiration pneumonia might have signs of poor oral hygiene along with throat clearing or wet coughing after a meal.

Other signs of the condition include:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bluish skin discoloration
  • Bad breath
    Aspiration pneumonia
    An individual with aspiration pneumonia might have signs of poor oral hygiene along with throat clearing or wet coughing after a meal.
  • Cough with greenish sputum, blood or foul odor
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive sweating

If any of these signs are present, a doctor must be seen. The individual should inform the doctor if he/she has recently inhaled liquids or food. Children below 2 years old or adults over 65 years old should seek medical care immediately.

Treatment of aspiration pneumonia

The treatment for aspiration pneumonia is based on its seriousness. The outcome and length of treatment depends on the general health and current conditions present. For severe cases of pneumonia, hospitalization is necessary. Those who have difficulty swallowing might be instructed to stop taking food orally.

Antibiotics might be prescribed by the doctor. The individual should take the antibiotics based on the prescribed course, usually from 1-2 weeks.

Supportive care is also necessary if aspiration pneumonia triggers breathing issues. The treatment includes supplemental oxygen, steroids or assistance from a breathing device.

Depending on the root cause for chronic cases, surgery is required. Surgery might be necessary for the placement of a feeding tube if the individual has swallowing issues that does not respond to treatment.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on aspiration pneumonia is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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