Lung Abscess


A lung abscess is a bacterial infection in the lungs that causes pus to appear. The main symptom of a lung abscess is coughing up phlegm. Phlegm often contains blood or pus and has an unpleasant odor.

Lung abscess is treated with antibiotics. The patient must take antibiotics for several weeks until the infection subsides. Patients who receive good care have a high cure rate. On the contrary, if not handled properly, this disease can cause complications and even death.

Causes of lung abscess

The main cause of a lung abscess is the development of infection in the lung tissue due to fluids or food containing bacteria directly in the lungs. This accident occurs when a person is unconscious due to the influence of alcohol or drugs, especially sedatives.

Apart from the presence of foreign fluid that enters the lungs, lung abscess can be a complication of other diseases, both inside and outside the lungs, namely:


  • Blockage of the airways in the lungs due to a tumor or enlarged glands in the lungs.
  • Bronchiectasis, which is stretching, thickening, and damage to the respiratory tissue before the lungs (airways).
  • Cystic fibrosis, which is a respiratory disease that causes thickened mucus or phlegm. This thick mucus will prevent the flow of breath to or from the lungs, which can lead to infection formation
  • Peritonitis, which is an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneum).
  • Endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner wall of the heart.

Lung abscess risk factors

Alcoholics are the group of people most likely to develop a lung abscess, due to a lack of awareness and frequent vomiting. This condition causes fluid from the stomach or outside that contains bacteria more easily enter the lungs and cause infection and abscesses. Alcoholics also have weaker immune systems, which facilitate infection. Alcoholics who have or have recently had pneumonia are at increased risk of developing a lung abscess. Apart from alcoholism, there are several factors that can increase the risk of lung abscesses, namely:


  • Weak immune systems, such as people with cancer and HIV, and the use of drugs that reduce the body's resistance.
  • Prolonged loss of consciousness.
  • Drug or sedative exposure.

Symptoms of a lung abscess

The main symptom of a lung abscess is coughing. Cough that occurs with phlegm that contains blood or pus. In addition, other symptoms that can appear in an infected person are:


  • Source
  • hard to breath
  • Weight loss
  • He stopped
  • High temperature
  • Bad breath
  • Sweating (especially at night)

Pulmonary abscess diagnosis


A doctor will suspect a patient with a lung abscess if the symptoms are confirmed by a physical examination. To confirm the diagnosis, a complete examination is necessary, one of which is a sputum examination. The sputum sample will be examined in the laboratory for infection and the type of bacteria causing the infection.

In addition to sputum examination, the doctor can also ask the patient to undergo supporting examinations in the form of:


  • X-rays. The patient's chest is examined using an X-ray which will provide visual information if there is an abscess in the lung.
  • CT scan. CT scans provide better visual results than X-rays, which make it easier to identify a lung abscess.
  • USG (USG). The doctor will check for abscesses in the lungs with an ultrasound.
  • Bronchoscopy. A pulmonologist will examine the inside of the lungs with the help of a special tube equipped with a camera on the end. Apart from a visual examination of the condition of the lungs, bronchoscopy can also be performed to collect lung tissue samples.

Lung abscess treatment

The main treatment for lung abscess is antibiotics. The doctor will prescribe antibiotics according to the results of the bacterial sensitivity test so that the drugs given are in accordance with the type of bacteria, so that they are effective. There are several types of antibiotics that can be given to people with lung abscesses, namely:


  • Penicillin
  • Clindamycin
  • Piperacillin
  • Amoxicillin clavulanate
  • Metronidazole
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Vancomycin
  • Amikacin
  • Meropenem
  • Levofloxacin

The length of antibiotic treatment a patient will undergo varies, depending on the severity of the abscess. Treatment for lung abscess is very long, and can last from 3 weeks to 6 months. In patients with secondary lung abscesses, hospitalization is usually recommended to help treat the disease that caused the abscess.

In some cases, the patient may undergo surgery to remove the abscess. The surgeon inserts a tube into the lung, and the pus in the abscess is sucked out. Then the lung tissue that has been damaged by the abscess is removed.

To help the abscess heal, the patient must stop drinking alcohol and not smoke. Patients are also advised to drink more water.

Complications of lung abscess

Complications most often occur in cases of lung abscess due to rupture of the abscess. Few of them:


  • Bronchial fistula. This condition can occur if a lung abscess bursts and causes leakage. As a result, air can flow from inside the lungs to outside the lungs. These complications can be treated with surgery.
  • Lung bleeding. A rupture of a lung abscess can follow a rupture of a blood vessel in an organ. This condition can lead to the patient losing blood due to bleeding. If the bleeding is severe enough, it could put the patient's life at risk due to blood loss.
  • The infection spreads. A rupture of an abscess causes bacteria from the site of the infection to spread to other parts of the body.

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