Pulmonary aspiration may lead to choking or aspiration pneumonia, according to the Summit Medical Group. Aspiration pneumonia is a dangerous and potentially fatal condition for those who do not receive prompt treatment, warns Healthline. Complications of aspiration pneumonia are rare but include the development of lung abscesses, inflammatory lung problems or acute respiratory failure. Doctors diagnose aspiration pneumonia through X-rays of the lungs and usually treat it with antibiotics.
Patients with medical disorders or conditions that affect the coordination between breathing and swallowing are at risk of pulmonary aspiration, states the Summit Medical Group. Patients who cannot cough very well have the highest risk of aspiration. Patients with severe cases of aspiration pneumonia may need hospitalization in order to safely manage the disease, especially patients who are having difficulty breathing, says Healthline. If the cause of aspiration is difficulty swallowing, the patient may need to stop oral intake of food and drink.
Pulmonary aspiration is the inhalation of a foreign substance into the lungs. This includes substances such as food, liquid, medicine, saliva or mucus. The primary symptom of aspiration is choking or coughing, which is how the body attempts to remove something from the windpipe. Patients with difficulty swallowing may have silent aspiration, in which there is no coughing upon inhaling a foreign substance.