Lung Abscess

What Is Lung Abscess?

Lung abscess is a pus-filled cavity that affects the lung tissue. It is caused by bacterial infection or fungi. The bacteria enter the lung causing inflammation and then form a cavity that is filled with pus.

The infection can spread to the air sacs, which can cause them to become blocked and impede breathing. There can also be a buildup of fluids in the surrounding tissue, resulting in discomfort and pain.

Causes of Lung Abscess

The causes of lung abscess vary but can include:

  • Infections from bacteria, such as Streptococcus bacteria, Staphylococcus bacteria, or other bacteria.
  • Fungal infections
  • Inhaling irritants, such as smoke or toxic fumes
  • Damage to lung tissue due to injury or surgery
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Symptoms of Lung Abscess

The symptoms of lung abscess can include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fever and chills
  • Weakness
  • Chest pain or other discomfort when breathing or coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Sputum (phlegm) production and discoloration

Risk Factors for Lung Abscess

Risk factors for lung abscesses include:

  • Smoking or other tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Underlying lung conditions such as COPD, asthma, or cystic fibrosis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Undergoing surgery on the chest or lungs
  • Having a tracheostomy or breathing through a ventilator
  • A respiratory infection such as pneumonia

Diagnosis of Lung Abscess

To diagnose lung abscess, your doctor will likely do a physical exam and listen to your breathing with a stethoscope. They may also request certain tests, such as:

  • Chest X-rays
  • Chest CT scans
  • Blood tests to check for infections or inflammation
  • Sputum tests to look for bacteria or fungi

Treatment of Lung Abscess

Treatment of lung abscesses usually involves antibiotics to treat the infection and then drainage of the abscess by either surgery or aspiration.

Prevention of Lung Abscess

Some steps to help prevent lung abscess include:

  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Avoid contact with certain chemicals, fumes, and other irritants.
  • Eat a healthy diet to maintain a strong immune system.
  • Wash your hands often and stay away from people who are sick.
  • If you have an underlying lung condition, take medications as prescribed.