A pulmonary aspiration occurs when foreign objects (liquids, food, vomit, saliva) enter the lungs. This is often referred to as food “going down the wrong pipe.” These foreign objects can carry bacteria into your lungs. Healthy lungs are able to process bacteria on their own. However, unhealthy lungs can develop serious problems such as pneumonia, choking, chemical pneumonitis, and asphyxiation. Specialists at Ogden Clinic in Utah can diagnose and treat the symptoms of pulmonary aspiration.
Choking or coughing before or after you swallow is the main symptom of aspiration. This is your body’s way of trying to remove the foreign object from the windpipe. Other symptoms of pulmonary aspiration include a shortness of breath, wheezing, fast or noisy breathing, regurgitation, or impaired voice.
Conditions that affect consciousness can increase the risk factor for pulmonary aspirations, such as traumatic brain injury, alcohol intoxication, or general anesthesia. Those who are unable to cough due to a stroke or nervous system condition have the highest risk for aspiration.
An Ogden Clinic provider may be able to diagnose pulmonary aspiration by observing how one swallows liquid and solid food. An Ogden Clinic healthcare provider may even perform a test called a videofluoroscopic swallowing study. During this test, your doctor will observe you swallowing a variety of different foods and liquids.
Treatment for pulmonary aspiration includes close observation of the airway to ensure it remains open. To prevent aspiration you can practice a variety of behaviors, such as taking smaller bites, refraining from speaking or laughing with food or liquid in your mouth, avoiding foods that are difficult to swallow, and following the therapies recommended by your healthcare professional, including possibly undergoing a swallowing study.
Treatment for aspiration pneumonia will depend on the severity of the condition. While some people are hospitalized and need a ventilator machine to assist in breathing, others may only require antibiotic medication.
If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to contact Ogden Clinic in Utah and make an appointment to be checked for pulmonary aspiration.