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Lung abscess

Lung abscess is a bacterial infection of the lungs that causes pus to appear. The main symptom of a lung abscess is a cough with phlegm. The expelled phlegm often contains blood or pus and has an odor.

Lung abscess is treated with antibiotics. Patients are required to take antibiotics for several weeks until the infection subsides. Patients who are well treated have a high cure rate. Conversely, if not treated properly, this disease can cause complications or even death.

Causes of Lung Abscess
The main cause of a lung abscess is the appearance of an infection in the lung tissue due to fluids or food containing bacteria directly entering the lungs. This incident occurs when a person is unconscious due to the influence of alcohol or drugs, especially sedatives.

Apart from being caused by foreign fluids that enter the lungs, lung abscess can be a complication of other diseases, both inside and outside the lungs, namely:
  • The existence of blockage of the airways in the lungs, due to a tumor or enlarged glands in the lungs
  • Pneumonia, precisely pneumonia caused by bacteria
  • Bronchiectasis, which is dilation, thickening, and damage to the respiratory tract tissue before the lungs (bronchi)
  • Cystic fibrosis, which is a respiratory disease that causes mucus or phlegm to become thicker. This thicker mucus fluid will block the flow of breath from or to the lungs so that it can trigger an infection that forms
  • Peritonitis, which is an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum)
  • Endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner wall of the heart
Lung Abscess Risk Factors
Alcoholics are the group of people most prone to lung abscesses, due to reduced consciousness and frequent vomiting. This condition causes fluid from the stomach or from outside that contains bacteria more easily into the lungs and causes infection and abscesses.

Alcoholics also have a weaker immune system, making it easier for infections to occur. Alcoholics who have or have recently had pneumonia have a high risk of developing a lung abscess. Apart from alcoholism, several factors that can increase your risk of developing a lung abscess are:
  • Weak immune systems, such as people with cancer and HIV, and taking drugs that reduce immunity.
  • Long-term loss of consciousness.
  • Are under the influence of drugs or sedatives.
Symptoms of Lung Abscess
The main symptom of a lung abscess is coughing. The cough that occurs is accompanied by phlegm that contains blood or pus. In addition, other symptoms that can appear in sufferers are:
  • Chest pain
  • Hard to breathe
  • Lose weight
  • Limp
  • High fever
  • Smelly breath
  • Sweating (especially at night)
Diagnosis of Lung Abscess
The doctor will suspect a patient with a lung abscess if there are symptoms, which are confirmed by a physical examination. In order to confirm the diagnosis, it is necessary to do a complete examination, one of which is a sputum test. The sputum sample taken will be examined in the laboratory to determine whether there is an infection or not, as well as the type of bacteria that causes the infection.

In addition to the sputum test, the doctor may also ask the patient to undergo supporting tests in the form of:
  • X-rays. The patient's chest is examined using X-rays which will provide visual information if there is an abscess in the lung.
  • CT scan. CT scans provide better results visually than X-rays, making lung abscesses easier to identify.
  • Ultrasound (USG). The doctor will check for a lung abscess through the use of ultrasonic waves.
  • Bronchoscopy. The pulmonologist will examine the inside of the lungs with the help of a special tube equipped with a camera at the end. In addition to visually checking the condition of the lungs, bronchoscopy can also be done to take samples of lung tissue.
Lung Abscess Treatment
The main treatment for lung abscesses is antibiotics. The doctor will prescribe an antibiotic according to the results of the bacterial sensitivity test so that the drug given is in accordance with the type of bacteria so that it works effectively. Several types of antibiotics that can be given to people with lung abscesses are:
  • Penicillin
  • Clindamycin
  • Piperacillin
  • Amoxicillin-clavulanate
  • Metronidazole
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Vancomycin
  • Amikacin
  • Meropenem
  • Levofloxacin
The duration of antibiotic treatment that the patient will undergo varies, depending on the severity of the abscess. Pulmonary abscess treatment is quite long, which can reach 3 weeks to 6 months. In secondary lung abscess patients, it will usually be recommended to undergo treatment in the hospital to help treat the disease that triggers the abscess.

In some cases, patients can undergo surgical treatment to remove the abscess. The surgeon will insert a tube into the inside of the lung, and then the pus contained in the abscess is sucked out. The lung tissue that has been damaged by the abscess is then removed.

To help the healing process from the abscess, the patient will be asked to stop drinking alcohol and not smoke. Patients will also be advised to drink more water.

Lung Abscess Complications
Complications in lung abscess cases often occur due to the rupture of the abscess. Some of them are:
  • Bronchopleural fistula. This condition can occur if an abscess in the lung bursts and causes leakage. As a result, air from inside the lungs can flow out of the lungs. This complication can be corrected with surgery.
  • Lung bleeding. Rupture of a lung abscess can be followed by a rupture of a blood vessel in the organ. This condition can cause the patient to lose blood due to bleeding. If the bleeding is severe enough, it can endanger the life of the sufferer due to blood loss.
  • The spread of infection. A ruptured abscess will cause bacteria to spread from the infection site to other parts of the body.