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Prevention of a Lung Abscess

A lung abscess is caused by a bacterial infection that causes tissue destruction in the lungs. A lung abscess is a medical emergency because if it continues to progress, it will result in the loss of integrity of the lining of the lung, which will prevent the lungs from fully expanding. The usual cause of a lung abscess is the aspiration (breathing in) of contents from the pharynx, commonly referred to ‘going down the wrong pipe’. The other major cause of a lung abscess is poor dental and oral hygiene. When a person with very bad dental hygiene inhales, some of the bacteria from the mouth find their way into the lungs.

A lung abscess is a serious medical condition, the abscess will bleed and produce serious problems for the normal operation of the lungs. The most identifiable symptom of a lung abscess is a severe cough the produces a bloody discharge. This is always a sign that something serious is wrong. Other symptoms include pain while inhaling, general chest pains, sweating, chills, headaches and weight loss. Early detection of a lung abscess is paramount to treatment, since in almost all cases the abscess can be cured with antibiotics.

There are certain lifestyle changes that can greatly increase your odds of preventing a lung abscess. The most important is dental and oral hygeine, which includes smoking cessation. The mouth is the entryway for both nutrition and oxygen, poor oral hygeine results in both being tainted with bacteria resulting in many problems including lung abscesses. Regular brushing of the teeth, along with antiseptic mouthwashes will go a long way in reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth and thus, the amount of bacteria that reach the lungs. Smoking prevents your mouth from properly cleansing itself with saliva, and thus increases the amount of bacteria found in the mouth.

The other easy way to reduce a lung abscess is to eat slowly and in a vertical position. By eating slowly, we allow the swallowing mechanism to work as intended. When we eat fast, we force that throat muscles to get confused because they ‘need’ to do two things at once (allow breathing, allow swallowing). Eating in a vertical position allows the muscles to act in conjunction with gravity, rather than against it. Also, by eating slowly, we can more easily and rapidly expel food that does enter the larynx, and prevent it from reaching the lungs.