Diseases & Conditions
What is anaerobic pneumonia?
Anaerobic pneumonia is an infection and inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria.
How does it occur?
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.
Anaerobic pneumonia often occurs in people with mouth and gum disease and in people with swallowing disorders. The bacteria can enter the body if you breathe saliva, food particles, or vomit into your lungs.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of anaerobic pneumonia include:
fever for several days to weeks
cough that produces sputum (phlegm or mucus)
How is it diagnosed?
Your doctor may order a chest x-ray. He or she may want to examine the fluid from your lungs. To drain fluid from your lungs, a thoracentesis or a bronchoscopy may be done.
Thoracentesis is a procedure done under local anesthesia. After numbing the area, the doctor inserts a needle through a space between your ribs and draws out some fluid.
Bronchoscopy is a procedure in which your doctor passes a lighted instrument called a bronchoscope down your throat and into the air passages leading to the lungs. This procedure allows the doctor to collect a fluid or tissue sample and inspect the air passages.
How is it treated?
The treatment consists of an antibiotic taken either orally or intravenously (into a vein).
The doctor will prescribe medication until a chest x-ray shows your lungs are clear. If you have a lot of fluid in your lungs it may be necessary to drain the fluid.
How long will the effects last?
You are usually not contagious. With proper treatment, you may recover in 1 to 2 weeks. Young children and adults over 50 years old take longer to recover.
How can I take care of myself?
To help take care of yourself, finish the full course of the antibiotic treatment prescribed by your doctor. The antibiotic treatment may be weeks to months long.
In addition, follow these guidelines:
Rest in bed until fever disappears and pain and shortness of breath decrease.
Drink water, tea, or fruit juice to help you cough up lung secretions more easily.
Use a humidifier to increase air moisture. Avoid steam vaporizers because they can cause burns.
Do not suppress your cough with medicine if the cough produces sputum or mucus.
Cough up lung secretions as much as possible.
Use over-the-counter drugs, such as acetaminophen, to relieve minor discomfort.
Call the doctor if:
Your symptoms recur or get worse.
Your temperature is higher than 102 degrees F (38.9 degrees C).
Your chest pain is not relieved by heat or prescribed medication.
You become more short of breath.
Your skin, fingernails, or toenails turn blue.
You cough up blood.
You have a new symptom such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.