Last Updated on March 28, 2023 by Hassan Abbas
Aspiration pneumonia is a common infection of the lungs that is caused by something entering your lungs through inhalation. If you think you have aspiration pneumonia, you should see a doctor straight away, as it should not be left untreated. Below we look at four causes of aspiration pneumonia, as well as the common symptoms to look out for.
Food or Drinks
We have all encountered that moment when a drink or piece of food has gone down the wrong way, leading us to cough and have a tickle we just can’t get rid of for a while. Inhaling food or drinks can cause aspiration pneumonia, and this risk is heightened if you have other medical issues. SimplyThick thickener is a thickening agent that allows those with swallowing problems (known as dysphagia) to enjoy their favorite drinks without the worry of aspiration pneumonia.
Children are most at risk of this, as they are more likely to put small objects near or inside their mouths. When inhaled, this can cause aspiration pneumonia, as your body fights against the foreign object in your body. Depending on the size of the object, this could be a medical emergency. If you or someone you know has swallowed something and suddenly starts coughing and struggling to breathe, call an ambulance straight away.
Bacteria is a leading cause of aspiration pneumonia, as the bacteria from your secretions or saliva can enter your airway while breathing. This is usually bacteria from your mouth or nose, and you may start with another infection before getting aspiration pneumonia, such as the common cold.
Contents from Your Stomach
When you vomit, you are at risk of inhaling part of your vomit as you struggle to breathe. This could cause aspiration pneumonia, as the vomit enters your lungs. Digestive juices are another cause and this may be more prevalent if you have digestive tract issues, such as acid reflux. This causes stomach acid to travel up your digestive tract, which could be inhaled.
There are some common symptoms of aspiration pneumonia to be aware of, especially if you or a loved one is at risk of the illness. Those who are most at risk include people over the age of 65 and under the age of five, as their immune system is weakest at this point. Anyone who has dysphagia or problems with coughing could also be more at risk.
The most common symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include:
- Frequent coughing, which may bring up pus or blood
- Pain in your chest
- Bad breath
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Feeling very tired
This usually happens within 1 to 2 days after aspiration. Speak to your doctor or visit a hospital if you have these symptoms and think you have inhaled something that can cause aspiration pneumonia, as you will need antibiotics to get rid of the infection. You can find more about aspiration pneumonia here.
Aspiration pneumonia occurs when something unknown enters your lungs. The most common causes of aspiration pneumonia include food and drink, bacteria, foreign objects, and stomach contents.
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