How does aspiration pneumonia commonly occur?

Updated: Aug 15, 2018
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

Answer

Aspiration pneumonia most commonly occurs in individuals with chronically impaired airway defense mechanisms, such as gag reflex, coughing, ciliary movement, and immune mechanisms, all of which aid in removing infectious material from the lower airways. Aspiration pneumonia can occur in the community or in a hospital or health care facility (ie, nosocomial). In both situations, anaerobic organisms alone or in combination with aerobic and/or microaerophilic organisms play a role in the infection. In anaerobic pneumonia, the pathogenesis is related to the large volume of aspirated anaerobes (eg, as in persons with poor dentition, poor oral care, and periodontal disease) and to host factors (eg, as in alcoholism) that suppress cough, mucociliary clearance, and phagocytic efficiency, both of which increase the bacterial burden of oropharyngeal secretions.


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