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Aspiration Pneumonia: The Five Questions You Should Be Asking Your Doctor

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Aspiration pneumonia is caused by the inhalation/aspiration of oropharyngeal, gastric contents or foreign particles into the lower airway passages. If the doctor diagnoses your symptoms as aspiration pneumonia, here is what you might consider asking him or her to lay your doubts and fears to rest:

1. How did I come to get aspiration pneumonia?

The causes for aspiration pneumonia may be physical, chemical or even environmental. Physical causes such as a trauma involving the head/cranium of a person, intracranial lesion (or tumours/lesions inside the head), cerebrovascular accident/stroke (CVA or a sudden loss of consciousness resulting when the rupture of a blood vessel leads to lack of oxygen in the brain), reduced or altered gag reflex in such people who are not alert, dental problems, and swallowing disorders are among the most common causes of aspiration pneumonia. Chemical causes include alcohol abuse, drug overdose, usage of anesthesia, and certain medications such as sedatives, etc. Some other causes could be old age, an abnormality of the epiglottis such as structural constriction, and an erring immune mechanism, etc.

Pathogens are also equally culpable in causing aspiration pneumonia. They are Streptococcus milleri, oral anaerobes, non-oral anaerobes like fusobacterium, peptostreptococcus, enterobaccteria like E Coli and pseudomonas aeruginosa, etc.

2. How long will I take to recover?

Recovery time depends upon the micro-organism being treated, your general health and promptness of medical attention. A majority of sufferers recover completely within a few weeks, with residual coughing persisting between six and eight weeks after the infection has gone.

3. What medication will I be given and for how long?

Though treatment depends upon the complications (lung abscess, shock, bacteremia, low blood pressure, acute respiratory distress, etc.), the type of bacteria involved and the severity of the pneumonia, antibiotics are usually given to tackle the situation as quickly as possible. The usual chemicals are amoxicillin – clavulanate combinations, clindamycin, ampicillin and imipenem.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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