DESCRIPTIONEmpyema is an accumulation of pus between layers of the infected pleura (thin membranes that cover the lung). The lungs and pleura are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Hospitalization to remove fluid from chest.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSChest pain. Pain varies from vague discomfort to stabbing pain. It is often worse when your child coughs or breathes. Pain may extend to the lower chest wall or abdomen.
Rapid, shallow breathing.
CAUSESLung or chest infections, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis.
A collapsed lung or chest injury.
Malignancy in other parts of the child's body.
Collagen vascular disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
Infection in another part of the child's body that has spread to the chest.
Congestive heart failure.
A complication of:
); smoking; fatigue or overwork; wet, cold climates; crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEObtain medical treatment for your child for any serious disorder or infection that may cause empyema.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory culture of pus from the empyema cavity.
X-ray of the child's chest.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSMeningitis; pericarditis; endocarditis; brain abscess.
Successful treatment depends on discovery and treatment of the child's underlying disorder. Draining the pus from the infected space hastens healing. High doses of antibiotics are needed, and hospitalization is usually required.
To reduce your child's chest pain, wrap the entire chest loosely with 2 or 3 non-adhesive 6-inch elastic bandages.
Use a cool-mist humidifier to loosen bronchial secretions so your child can cough them up more easily.
Urge your child to practice these breathing exercises:
-- Purse your lips and breathe forcefully against resistance (as if blowing out a candle) 10 times. Repeat every hour.
-- Take 10 deep breaths every hour.
Urge your child not to smoke.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight infection. The type of antibiotic will depend on the type of germ responsible for your child's illness and the results of sensitivity studies (See Glossary).
For minor pain, use non-prescription drugs such as acetaminophen.
Your child should reduce activity until the pain and fever are gone. The child can gradually return to normal activity. Allow 2 months for recovery.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. Give the child vitamin supplements. Encourage increased fluid intake.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of empyema.
The following occurs during treatment: fever rises rapidly over 101F (38.3C); pain increases; breathlessness worsens; cough becomes dry and non-productive; fingernails or toenails turn blue or dark; blood appears in the sputum.