DESCRIPTIONA lung abscess is an infected area of lung tissue, surrounded by lung inflammation. The infected lung tissue dies and is replaced with pus. The infection is not contagious from person to person. The lung and bronchial tubes are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery (sometimes) to aspirate pus from the abscess or to remove the abscess and part of the lung, if the abscess does not heal.
Self-care during convalescence.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSCough with sputum. The sputum is puslike, is often blood-streaked, and sometimes smells bad.
Fever to 101F (38.3C) or higher.
Chest pain (sometimes).
Usually a complication of pneumonia. A lung abscess sometimes occurs when an unconscious or sedated child inhales infected material from the upper-breathing passages. The patient may be unconscious from a head injury or an anesthetic (including dental anesthesia) or may be intoxicated from alcohol or heavily sedated. Lung abscesses are generally caused by virulent bacteria, such as klebsiella, pseudomonas; staphylococcus, or beta-hemolytic streptococcus.
RISK FACTORSRecent illness, especially pneumonia that has been slow to heal.
Recent general anesthesia or injury causing unconsciousness.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Obtain prompt medical treatment for your child's respiratory infections, especially pneumonia.
Keep the child's teeth and mouth in good condition to prevent oral infections that could result in a lung abscess.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood tests and a culture of pus from the child's abscess to determine what antibiotic to use.
X-rays of the lung.
Chronic abscess, leading to weight loss, anemia, bronchiectasis, or chronic lung disease, if the child's abscess does not respond well to antibiotic treatment.
Rupture of the abscess, causing empyema or massive bleeding in the lung.
Spread of infection to other body parts, especially the brain.
Usually curable with prolonged antibiotic treatment (up to 6 months).
HOME CAREInstructions for your child:
Practice deep-breathing exercises as often as possible.
Learn postural drainage to help rid the lung of bronchial secretions. Lie on the bed on your stomach with your head and chest hanging over the edge. Force yourself to cough. Continue until you cannot raise any more sputum. Practice this twice a day for 5 to 10 minutes.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe antibiotics for prolonged periods to fight infection and prevent recurrence.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. Encourage your child to increase fluid intake to at least 8 glasses a day. By drinking extra liquids, the body is forced to eliminate part of the fluid through the lungs. This makes thick lung secretions thinner, so they can be coughed up more easily.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, but only 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 a lung abscess.
The following occurs during treatment:
-- Fever rises to 101F (38.3C) or higher.
-- Sputum thickens, despite treatment.
-- Postural drainage reveals a change in color, amount, or consistency of the sputum.
Symptoms of a lung infection recur after treatment, especially a sputum-producing cough, fever, or general ill feeling.