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Aspiration pneumonia

  • Alternative Names

    Anaerobic pneumonia; Aspiration of vomitus; Necrotizing pneumonia; Aspiration pneumonitis


    Some people may need to be hospitalized. Treatment depends on the severity of the pneumonia. You may receive antibiotics, which treat bacteria. Some people may get special antibiotics to treat bacteria that live in the mouth.

    The type of bacteria that caused the pneumonia depends on:

    • Your health
    • Where you live (at home or in a long-term nursing facility, for example)
    • Whether you've recently been hospitalized
    • Recent antibiotic use

    You may need to have your swallowing function tested. Patients who have trouble swallowing may need to use other feeding methods to reduce the risk of aspiration.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome depends on:

    • The severity of the pneumonia
    • The type of bacteria causing the pneumonia
    • How much of the lungs are involved

    If acute respiratory failure develops, the patient may have a long-term illness or die.

    Many people who have aspiration pneumonia have other serious health problems, which may affect the outlook for recovery.

    • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
    • Low blood pressure
    • Pneumonia with lung abscess
    • Shock
    • Spread of infection to the bloodstream (bacteremia)
    • Spread of infection to other areas of the body

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider, go to the emergency room, or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have:

    • Chest pain
    • Chills
    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath
    • Wheezing