Aspiration pneumonia, also called anaerobic pneumonia, is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria.
The infection is usually not contagious.
The bacteria that cause this disease are a type called anaerobic bacteria. These bacteria live best in places that have little or no oxygen, such as the mouth and intestine. They can enter your lungs if you accidentally breathe food, saliva, or vomit into your lungs.
Aspiration pneumonia often occurs in people who:
The symptoms of aspiration pneumonia are:
Your healthcare provider will review your symptoms and examine you. You will probably have these tests:
If your provider thinks you may have an abscess (a collection of pus) in the lung, you may need a CT scan of your chest.
Sometimes it is necessary to get a sample of fluid from deep in the lungs for lab tests. The two main ways of doing this are:
If you have a swallowing problem, you may have swallowing tests to check on the cause and severity of the problem.
Aspiration pneumonia is usually treated with intravenous (IV) antibiotics. Depending on how ill you are, this may be done at home or at the hospital. Once you start to get better, your healthcare provider may switch you to oral medicine. This type of pneumonia often needs several weeks of treatment with an antibiotic.
If your chest X-ray shows a lot of fluid or pus in your lungs, you may need to have a drainage tube inserted through your chest wall. The tube drains infected material from your lungs. The tube will be removed when the drainage stops and your chest X-ray shows improvement.
With treatment, you may recover in 1 to 4 weeks. If you are over 60 years old or have other medical problems, it may take longer to feel normal.
If you have a swallowing problem, you can learn ways to eat and drink that avoid choking and help keep you from breathing in food or saliva. Ask your healthcare provider about seeing an occupational therapist or other specialist. They can teach you or your family how you can get the nutrition you need while limiting the risk of choking.