Aspiration pneumonia occurs most frequent in patients that are in a coma or in those who are so seriously ill that they barely breathe. It affects more frequent the elders but it can also occur at other age categories.
Aspiration pneumonia refers to the problem of mouth contents entering the airways instead of going into the stomach. This can lead to an infection of the lungs, fever and breathing problems, even a bacterial pneumonia.
Generally, a person who has a malfunctioning swallowing mechanism, who does not posses a good cough reflex, could develop aspiration pneumonia. Even those patients who are fed with a tube that goes directly into their stomach could develop this problem, due to a regurgitation of the stomach contents into the throat and then into the lungs.
It is highly indicated for such persons to eat in an upright position, and stay in this position for 30 minutes after eating is done. Even the patient’s own saliva may get into the lungs, especially if he has an increased production of saliva. To prevent this, cleaning the mouth with a dry bandage and frequent suctioning of the mouth is highly recommended.
Patients who still have tracheotomy should clean the tracheotomy tube of the coughed material, this way preventing mucus and bacteria from being aspirated back into the lungs and causing a bacterial pneumonia which is a serious illness.
There are some methods of keeping the lungs expanded, and so, helping to loosen up the material that needs to be taken out: clapping or cupping the chest, breathing exercises, changing the body’s position more frequent, and using a vibrator over the chest.
Aspiration pneumonia can even lead to one’s death by chocking with the sucked materials; this is why prevention is so important.
When a lung infection occurs treating it at the right moment and with the right drugs could lead to its cure and save the patient from developing other complications like producing a partial collapse (atelectasis) of the lung.
Signs of installed complications like bacterial pneumonia are: cough with yellow or greenish sputum, high grade fever, chest pains, breathing problems, muscle aches and fatigue. Treatment consists in administering antibiotic drugs, controlling the fever, and most of all, preventing lung aspiration of mouth materials from occurring again.
The treatment of aspiration pneumonia consists in administering oxygen, aspiration of the foreign materials from the airways, and total spell. The therapy will include anti-shock medication and antibiotics.