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Lung Abscess


What is a lung abscess?

A lung abscess is a pus-filled area in your lung tissue that is caused by a bacterial infection. A lung abscess can form after you accidentally inhale food or liquid into your lungs. A mouth infection, a weak immune system, or heart problems may increase your risk for a lung abscess. A severe lung abscess may spread and become life-threatening.

What are the signs and symptoms of a lung abscess?

  • Productive cough
  • Fever, chills, or night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood

How is a lung abscess diagnosed?

  • Blood tests may show which type of bacteria is in your lung. This will help your healthcare provider know which type of medicine to use to treat your lung abscess.
  • An x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan may be used to show the location of your lung abscess. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these or other tests you may need.

How is a lung abscess treated?

  • Medicines will be used to treat a bacterial infection.
  • Chest physiotherapy is treatment to clear fluid from your lung and increase blood flow. A healthcare provider will tap on your chest and back to help loosen fluid in your lungs. He will place you in different positions to exercise your lung and drain the fluid. This will help you cough out excess fluid from your lung so it can heal.
  • Percutaneous drainage is a procedure to remove excess fluid from your lung through a catheter. Your healthcare provider will use an ultrasound to insert the catheter through your skin and into your lung.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Limit activity as directed. Ask your healthcare provider when it is okay to return to your normal activities.
  • Ask if you need any vaccinations. A flu or pneumonia shot may help reduce your risk for more lung infections.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever or night sweats.
  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have sudden shortness of breath.
  • You have sudden sharp chest pain, especially when you breathe or cough.
  • You cough up blood.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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