December 15, 2009

Aspiration Pneumonia Symptoms and Causes

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

The pneumonia that is caused when the immunity or the defense system of the host is low is known as aspiration pneumonia. This is a secondary pneumonia and is caused by the aspiration of the anaerobic organisms that might be present in the lower region of the respiratory tract.

There is also another kind of aspiration pneumonia in which the infection is caused due to the movement of infected nasal secretions into the lower regions of the respiratory tract. This infection is often caused due to sinusitis. The degree of severity of symptoms in such a condition is much less, and therefore, this is also called benign aspiration pneumonia. Sometimes, the symptoms are virtually nonexistent, and the only way to find out that the person is suffering from pneumonia is by taking an X-ray of the chest.


The symptoms of aspiration pneumonia are as follows:

  • Persistent cough that lasts for several minutes
  • Sputum that has a lot of pus
  • Low-grade fever
  • Pain in the lower part of the chest, which gradually spreads to the entire chest as the infection spreads.
  • Neutrophilic luecocytosis

These symptoms usually persist for about two weeks after the start of medication. The antibiotics prescribed by the doctors are usually able to resolve this condition quite rapidly.
There are also some other, more severe forms of pneumonia. In this condition, the inflammation is so severe that the parenchyma of the lungs begins to get destroyed. Such a condition is usually caused by the bacteria staphylococci.


The causes of pneumonia are several. Diseases or infections in the esophagus are the most common causes of developing aspiration pneumonia. If there has been an infection in the nasal tubes that connects with the digestive system, the risk of developing aspiration pneumonia increases manifold. Dental infections or infections in the upper airways may also cause the infection to be transmitted to the lower respiratory tract. Other causes include terminal illnesses and administration of general anesthesia, which causes a gastro-esophageal reflux.

The onset of aspiration pneumonia is usually not noticeable. There may be persistent cough and expulsion of pus with the sputum. In the early stage, you may see stains of blood in the sputum. It is best to take medical help at this point before the infection gets any worse. It is also best to take careful precautions when you go for surgeries in the nose, throat or mouth. Any carelessness could cause a host of bacteria to wreak havoc inside your body. The treatment may involve a minor surgery to remove the aspirated material from the respiratory tract. Apart from that, antibiotics and a lot of rest are prescribed.