What is it?

Aspiration pneumonia is pneumonia that is caused by something other than air being inhaled (aspirated) into your respiratory tract. These non-air substances can be food, liquid, saliva, stomach contents, toxins or even a small foreign object.

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Pneumonitis due to inhalation of food and vomit.

Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Aspiration Pneumonia

Signs & symptoms

Aspiration pneumonia symptoms include:
* Shortness of breath (dyspnea) or wheezing.
* Coughing up blood or pus.
* Chest pain.
* Bad breath.
* Extreme tiredness.


Generally, the first thing the doctor will do in any situation is take a complete medical history and perform a physical examination. They’ll ask you about your current signs and symptoms. One thing that is a little tricky about aspiration pneumonia is that often no one actually sees you breathe in an object or food or saliva.
In addition to taking note of your symptoms, your provider will order tests such as:
* Chest X-ray and/or a computed tomography (CT) scan
* Blood tests
* Sputum tests


Aspiration pneumonia is treated primarily with antibiotics. (Viral pneumonia requires treatment with antiviral medications.) The choice of antibiotics depends on several things, including any allergies to penicillin and where the pneumonia was acquired. Hospital-acquired infections must be treated with antibiotics that are effective against many types of bacteria.
Even though aspiration pneumonitis isn’t an infection, your provider may start antibiotic therapy, depending on the clinical situation and underlying medical conditions.
Additional treatment might include oxygen therapy or, in life-threatening cases, mechanical ventilation. Mechanical ventilation means that a machine (a ventilator) is breathing for you.
Preventing further aspiration is an important part of treatment, since every episode of aspiration can lead to inflammation or infection.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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