What Is Pulmonary
actinomycosis is a rare bacterial lung infection. It’s also known as thoracic
actinomycosis. It’s not contagious.
condition mainly affects people between 30 and 60 years old. It occurs more
often in men than in women.
is generally successful, but it can be a lengthy process.
What Causes Pulmonary
condition is caused by bacteria from the genus Actinomyces. These bacteria normally live in your
mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Most of the time they are harmless. However,
they can cause an infection if tissue becomes damaged.
usually occurs after illness or injury, like a tooth abscess or gum disease.
The damaged tissue makes it possible for bacteria to move to your lungs or
other parts of your body. There, it can cause harm.
most cases, pulmonary actinomycosis occurs when a mixture of food and bacteria
accidentally ends up in the lungs instead of the stomach. Inhaling food instead
of swallowing is called aspiration.
Who Is at Risk for
factors for this condition include:
- dental abscess
- not taking care of your teeth and gums
- emphysema (a type of lung infection)
- scarred lungs from bronchiectasis
- heavy drinking
alcohol use may weaken your immune system. Heavy drinkers are also more likely
to aspirate vomitus.
to one study, another risk factor may be hiatal
hernia. This is a condition where part of your stomach
pushes up into your chest. Research is still preliminary.
What Are the Symptoms of
of pulmonary actinomycosis generally start slowly. Common signs include:
- fever at or above 100.4˚F
- shortness of breath
- weight loss
- chest pain when inhaling deeply
- night sweats
- appetite loss
- dry cough with or without blood
- a cough with phlegm that might contain blood
How Serious Is Pulmonary
treatment, pulmonary actinomycosis can destroy parts of your lungs. You could
also develop a brain abscess or a brain infection called meningitis. This is
complications include emphysema, and a serious bone infection called
How Is Pulmonary
of pulmonary actinomycosis are similar to those of other conditions. Therefore,
your doctor might have to perform several tests to confirm the diagnosis. These
include the following.
- Lung biopsy: A small piece
of lung tissue is removed and checked for signs of damage or infection.
- Bronchoscopy: A thin tube is
used to see inside your lungs.
- Complete blood count: This blood test
will reveal signs of infection.
- Chest CT scan: Specialized X-rays
are used to make an image of your chest. This helps find abnormalities in your
- Chest X-rays.
- Sputum culture: This checks for
bacterial infection, utilizing your phlegm sample.
- Thoracentesis: Fluid is removed
from your lungs for testing. Too much fluid can indicate infection.
How Is Pulmonary
is the most common antibiotic treatment. It’s usually given as injections for
two to six weeks. Then oral penicillin is used for six to 12 months. It can
take up to 18 months of treatment for a cure.
you’re allergic to penicillin, your doctor will prescribe alternate antibiotics
like tetracycline or clindamycin.
might need to have fluid surgically drained from your lungs. Excess fluid can
lead to pulmonary edema.
This condition is potentially life-threatening.
can also repair tissue damage in your lungs.
How Can Pulmonary
Actinomycosis Be Prevented?
dental hygiene can help lower your risk. Keep your teeth and gums in good
shape. This helps prevent bacteria from spreading to other parts of your body.
To do this:
- Brush and floss your teeth twice a day.
- Get regular dental cleanings and exams.
- Eat fewer sugary foods. Sugary foods can increase your
risk for tooth decay.