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Alternative Names Return to topAnaerobic pneumonia; Aspiration of vomitus; Necrotizing pneumonia; Aspiration pneumonitis; Chemical pneumonitis
Definition Return to top
Aspiration pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs and airways to the lungs (bronchial tubes) from breathing in foreign material.
Causes Return to top
Aspiration pneumonia is caused by breathing foreign materials (usually food, liquids, vomit, or fluids from the mouth) into the lungs. This may lead to:
Aspiration of foreign material into the lungs can be caused by:
Acidic material that is breathed into the lungs can cause severe lung injury. However, it may not necessarily lead to pneumonia.
Symptoms Return to top
Other symptoms that can occur with this disease:
Exams and Tests Return to top
A physical examination may reveal crackling sounds in the lungs and a rapid pulse (heart rate).
The following tests may also help diagnose this condition:
Treatment Return to top
Some people may need to be hospitalized. Treatment depends on the severity of the pneumonia. You may receive antibiotics, which treat bacteria. Some people may get special antibiotics to treat bacteria that live in the mouth.
The type of bacteria that caused the pneumonia depends on:
You may need to have your swallowing function tested. Patients who have trouble swallowing may need to use other feeding methods to reduce the risk of aspiration.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome depends on:
If acute respiratory failure develops, the patient may have a long-term illness or die.
Many people who have aspiration pneumonia have other serious health problems, which may affect the outlook for recovery.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider, go to the emergency room, or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have:
Prevention Return to top
References Return to top
Limper AH. Overview of pneumonia. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 97.Update Date: 3/17/2009 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.