Aspiration pneumonia is one of the most challenging types of pneumonia to fight. This kind of pneumonia occurs when individuals inhale (aspirate) food, fluid, or even gastric juices. In addition to the fluid and infection in the lungs seen in all types of pneumonia, individuals with this disease also have foreign material in their delicate alveoli, making it even more difficult to breathe. Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, and intense chest pain. While most individuals will never catch this disease, some factors could increase their chances.
Suffering From Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disorder in which the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus is looser than usual. Thus, stomach acids can easily splash up into the throat, causing a burning sensation similar to heartburn. If these gastric acids are inhaled, they also may cause aspiration pneumonia.
Gastric acid is very caustic, so lung tissues may be severely burned by aspiration. This can worsen the symptoms of pneumonia and cause a much longer recovery time. Aspiration pneumonia in patients suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease is almost always preventable. In most cases, gastroesophageal reflux disease can be effectively treated with medications and lifestyle changes.