What Is a Lung Abscess?
A lung abscess
is a bacterial infection that occurs in the lung tissue. The infection causes
tissue to die, and pus collects in that space. A lung abscess can be challenging
to treat. This condition can be life threatening.
What Causes a Lung Abscess?
can be classified as primary or secondary. They develop from different strains
of bacteria and have different causes.
abscesses often develop from lung infections, such as pneumonia. Secondary
abscesses often develop because of other issues, such as obstructions,
abnormalities of the lungs, foreign materials, or other infections.
matter while sedated or unconscious, either through intoxication or anesthesia,
can also cause a lung abscess. The inhaled material often comes from an
infection in the mouth or respiratory tract or stomach.
Who Is at Risk for a Lung Abscess?
suffer from alcoholism or have recently been ill (especially with pneumonia)
have a high risk of developing a lung abscess. The risk is also high for people
who have recently been under anesthesia, sedation, or unconsciousness from injury.
What Are the Symptoms of a Lung Abscess?
noticeable symptom of a lung abscess is a productive cough. The contents that
are coughed up may be bloody or pus-like, with a foul odor.
include bad breath, fever with chills, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
Sweating or night sweats, weight loss, and fatigue can also indicate a lung
How Is a Lung Abscess Diagnosed?
To diagnose a
lung abscess, your doctor will first assess your health history. He or she will
review recent operations where anesthesia was used. If an abscess is suspected,
your doctor will analyze the sputum, or pus. Your doctor might also use imaging
tools, such as an X-ray or a CT scan, to look at where the infection is in the
lungs and rule out other conditions, such as cancer or emphysema. For more
serious infections, your doctor might perform a procedure to take a sample from
If your doctor
thinks a foreign material has entered the lungs, he or she might insert a bronchoscope
into the windpipe to locate it.
How Is a Lung Abscess Treated?
treatment for a lung abscess is antibiotics. Long-term use of the medication
might be necessary for up to six months. In addition, your doctor might suggest
at-home treatments including deep breathing and drainage techniques. Lifestyle
changes such as not smoking and drinking more fluids may also be suggested.
is surgery. A tube can be inserted into the lungs to drain pus from the
In rare cases, a
lung abscess can rupture. This is a serious medical concern. Another potential
complication is infection spreading to other parts of the body.
What Is the Outlook for a Lung Abscess?
A lung abscess
treated with antibiotics can heal without complications. People with suppressed
immune systems, with underlying health conditions, or without access to
healthcare are more susceptible to adverse outcomes. The condition can be
or an abscess left untreated could lead to chronic lung disease, weight loss,
anemia, or other lung issues.