Lung Abscess

According to Sciencedict, the lungs are one of the vital organs of humans. The impairment of the functionality and performance of the respiratory organ by a lung abscess can result in extensive secondary diseases.

Lung Abscess

What is a lung abscess?

In the case of a lung abscess, doctors distinguish between different forms, in which pneumonia can develop in addition to the actual lung abscess. In the other case, a lung abscess proceeds without pneumonia. The term pneumonia stands for inflammation of the lungs.

The definition of a lung abscess is a so-called necrotic abscess that grows in the lung tissue that is well supplied with blood. The health hazard posed by a lung abscess is based on its necrotic growth. In necrosis, tissue is destroyed, it dies.

An abscess is characterized by the accumulation of pus without the cavity opening on its own. In the case of a lung abscess, the accumulations of pus cannot escape by themselves.


The causes for the development of a lung abscess are based in the majority on pneumonia, which are triggered by inhaled particles.

These particles also include pathogenic germs and mostly liquids. Microbiological investigations show that the pathogens are combinations of bacterial strains that represent a so-called aerobic or anaerobic life form. Aerobic means the bacteria need oxygen to multiply. Anaerobic germs grow without oxygen.

Other causative factors that can lead to a lung abscess are pneumonia as a secondary disease after an occlusion or narrowing of the pulmonary artery and bronchiectasis (enlargement of a bronchi).

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

In many cases, a lung abscess is only noticed after a few days or weeks. The first symptoms are tiredness, exhaustion and loss of appetite. Patients drastically lose weight, resulting in deficiency symptoms and a weakened immune system. The consequences are often further illnesses and complaints.

In the course of the disease, chills, fever, cough and other symptoms are added. Fever and cough occur in phases and can vary in intensity. The abscess also secretes foul-smelling sputum associated with a strong bad breath. A possible discharge of pus can lead to the blockage of the pulmonary arteries and, in the worst case, be fatal.

As a result of co-inflammation of the rib cage, severe pain develops in the chest and an increasing feeling of pressure, which makes breathing even more difficult. In the late stage, persistent shortness of breath finally sets in. If there is no treatment by then at the latest, serious symptoms such as blood poisoning or lung failure can set in.

A lung abscess is always accompanied by severe symptoms and disorders that rapidly increase in intensity and are life-threatening for the patient. With appropriate treatment, they subside after a few days without any long-term effects to be expected.

Diagnosis & History

With regard to the course of the lung abscess, specific symptoms appear, which are reflected in the development of fever, which ranges from 37.5 °C to 38 °C and is more likely to be regarded as an elevated temperature.

In addition, patients affected by a lung abscess cough profusely and may develop shortness of breath. Due to the distribution of disease-causing and pus – producing microbes, a lung abscess causes discharge of purulent sputum when coughing. This occurs when the lung abscess is near the bronchial tree.

Complications of a lung abscess include blood poisoning, effusion of pus into the pleura, and blockage of the pulmonary artery. These aspects are diagnostically relevant in order to be able to discover a lung abscess.

X-ray examinations are also helpful. These are supplemented by a lung computer tomography and a microbiological examination of sputum as well as a so-called bronchoscopy. Since the pathogens of a lung abscess are in the patient’s blood at a certain stage, a blood test can also bring results.


A lung abscess can have serious consequences. A typical complication is, for example, the formation of fistula tracts, which later lead to breakthrough into the lung tissue. This can lead to blood poisoning and other life-threatening accompanying symptoms. A pleural empyema, i.e. a breakthrough of the abscess into the pleural space, is similarly severe.

This can also lead to sepsis and sometimes even complete lung failure. This is usually preceded by breathing difficulties which, if left untreated, can lead to suffocation. Rarely, a lung abscess can also lead to what is known as gangrene, in which entire sections of the lung die off.

This complication occurs primarily in delayed lung abscesses or chronic lung diseases. An undetected lung abscess can spread and lead to serious physical and psychological complications. Depending on the severity of the disease, this can lead to organ failure, various functional disorders and ultimately to the death of the patient.

When treating a lung abscess, post-operative bleeding, bleeding, excessive scarring and temporary functional disorders can occur. The prescribed drugs can cause allergic reactions and intolerance.

When should you go to the doctor?

If you notice lung pain, coughing up blood, or other signs of a serious lung or respiratory condition, you should see a doctor. General symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite or fever are warning signs that require clarification. Likewise, night sweats, coughing with sputum or olfactory disorders. If symptoms worsen and do not go away on their own, medical advice is needed. The same applies to severe pain in the lungs.

The risk groups include people who suffer from chronic lung disease, have a tumor in the lungs or malformations. People who have swallowed a foreign object or who are suffering from severe flu are also susceptible to the development of a lung abscess and should definitely see a doctor with the symptoms mentioned. The right contact person is the general practitioner or a lung specialist. Depending on the symptoms, gastroenterologists, ENT doctors and internists can also be consulted. In the event of a medical emergency, such as when the abscess opens, those affected or their relatives must call the emergency doctor.

Treatment & Therapy

To treat a lung abscess, doctors use proven therapies that are based on both drugs and surgical interventions. Surgery is considered for a lung abscess when the abscess does not resolve despite the use of antibiotics.

In this context, taking antibiotics is referred to as long-term use and, in the case of a lung abscess, includes a duration of at least 6 weeks. Not every drug with an antibiotic effect proves to be useful for the treatment of the lung abscess. In order to prevent the organism from building up resistance, active ingredients such as clindamycin are prescribed in a targeted manner in the case of a lung abscess.

These substances can prevent the mixed forms of bacteria that occur in lung abscesses from multiplying and spreading. The therapy can be supplemented by inhalation and medication that promote the expectoration of mucus.

In some cases, the lung abscess also ruptures, although the pus is not necessarily evacuated from the lungs. If this leads to complications, these are treated with further measures in the case of a lung abscess.

Outlook & Forecast

If left untreated, the lung abscess can result in the premature death of the affected person. Timely diagnosis and medical treatment are therefore necessary for a good prognosis. Self-help measures or alternative healing methods are not enough to achieve recovery. The administration of medication leads to an alleviation of the symptoms. Normally, the abscess gradually recedes until the symptoms are finally free.

If drug therapy is unsuccessful, surgery is performed. This is associated with various risks and side effects. If it proceeds without further complications and incidents, the person concerned is released from the treatment as symptom-free immediately after the wound has healed. In severe cases, an unfavorable course of the disease can occur. As an accompanying symptom there is the possibility of blood poisoning. This circumstance represents a potentially life-threatening condition.

Without intensive medical care, the patient is at risk of death. Although a lung abscess can heal completely, there is a possibility that the affected person may suffer from secondary diseases. The impairment of lung activity can lead to severe emotional stress and permanent limitations in breathing activity. In addition to mental disorders, organ failure can occur at any time. In addition, the formation of a new lung abscess is also possible. The risk of this is increased in people who suffer more from pneumonia.


Adequate oral hygiene, a healthy lifestyle and strengthening the immune system are particularly recommended as preventive measures against a lung abscess. Within these factors, consumption of tobacco products and alcohol should be avoided. The pathogens responsible for a lung abscess cannot be transmitted. Normal hygiene and disinfection of hands and surfaces is therefore sufficient.


Most patients with healthy immune systems are able to completely eliminate a disease. It is important to prevent them from reoccurring. The preventive measures include, for example, avoiding a recurrence of the disease and protecting the respiratory tract. Sometimes sage tea and other naturopathic remedies help speed recovery.

According to the scientific state of the art, immunity does not exist after a single illness. Patients are therefore always at risk of developing a new lung abscess. Possible complications should not be underestimated. They often cause long-term damage. Lung failure in particular can have life-threatening consequences.

It is therefore advisable to use simple methods such as a walk on the beach during aftercare. The salty sea air opens the bronchi and makes breathing easier, alternatively a visit to a salt cave can help. Since a lung abscess is associated with a heavy strain on the lungs, those affected should take it easy for a while after the acute phase of the disease. This also includes abstaining from sporting activities. These should only be resumed very cautiously in order to prevent a relapse and a worsening of the state of health.

You can do that yourself

To reduce the general health risk, those affected should refrain from consuming nicotine. Smoking should be neither active nor passive. This relieves the lungs and significantly reduces the risk of illness. Since a lung abscess requires the intervention of medical care, the patient has few opportunities to do something to improve their situation.

In addition to preventive care, it is helpful if he avoids physical stress and restructures his everyday life accordingly. You should remain calm so that you are not afraid of the shortness of breath. Emotional and physical excitement should be avoided. Various methods have proven themselves for mental relaxation, which the patient can carry out independently and with little effort. They include techniques such as yoga or meditation. Stress should always be kept as low as possible. An exchange with relatives is helpful so that consideration can take place, which contributes to an improvement in well-being.

A healthy and balanced diet is important and helpful for strengthening the immune system. The consumption of alcohol should be avoided, as it can lead to complications in combination with the medication administered. The supply of the organism with sufficient oxygen is important in the case of lung problems. Therefore, a daily stay in the fresh air is recommended.