Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page

 

Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Pulmonary nocardiosis

Nocardiosis - pulmonary

 

Pulmonary nocardiosis is an infection of the lung with the bacteria, Nocardia asteroides.

Causes

 

Nocardia infection develops when you breathe in (inhale) the bacteria. The infection causes pneumonia-like symptoms. The infection can spread to any part of the body.

People at highest risk for nocardia infection are those with a weakened immune system. This includes people who have:

  • Been taking steroids or other medicines that weaken the immune system for a long time
  • Cushing disease
  • An organ transplant
  • HIV
  • Lymphoma

Other people at risk include those with chronic lung problems related to smoking, emphysema, or other infections such as tuberculosis.

 

Symptoms

 

Entire body:

  • Fever (comes and goes)
  • General ill feeling (malaise)
  • Night sweats

Gastrointestinal system:

  • Nausea
  • Liver and spleen swelling (hepatosplenomegaly)
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vomiting

Lungs and airways:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest pain not due to heart problems
  • Coughing up blood
  • Cough with mucus
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath

Muscles and joints:

  • Joint pain

Nervous system:

  • Change in mental state
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Seizures

Skin:

  • Skin rashes or lumps
  • Skin sores (abscesses)
  • Swollen lymph nodes

 

Exams and Tests

 

Your doctor or nurse will examine you and listen to your lungs using a stethoscope. You may have abnormal lung sounds, called crackles. Tests that may be done include:

  • Bronchoalveolar lavage - fluid is sent for stain and culture, which is taken by bronchoscopy
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan of the chest
  • Pleural fluid culture and stain
  • Sputum stain and culture

 

Treatment

 

The goal of treatment is to control the infection. Antibiotics are used, but it may take a while to get better. You must keep taking the medications for at least 3 months.

Surgery may be needed to remove or drain infected areas.

Your health care provider may tell you to stop taking any medicines that weaken your immune system. Never stop taking any medicine before talking to your health provider first.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

The outcome is often good when the condition is diagnosed and treated quickly.

The outcome is poor when the infection spreads outside the lung, treatment is delayed, or the person has a serious disease that leads to or requires long-term suppression of the immune system.

 

Possible Complications

 

  • Brain abscesses
  • Skin infections

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this disorder. Early diagnosis and treatment may improve the chance of a good outcome.

 

Prevention

 

Be careful when using corticosteroids. Use these drugs sparingly, in the lowest effective doses and for the shortest periods of time possible.

Some patients with an impaired immune system may need to take antibiotics for long periods of time to prevent the infection from returning.

 

 

References

Limper AH. Overview of pneumonia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 97.

Torres A. Pyogenic bacterial pneumonia and lung abscess. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus CV, Martin TR, et al. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 32.

BACK TO TOPText only

 
  • Respiratory system

    Respiratory system

    illustration

    • Respiratory system

      Respiratory system

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Pulmonary nocardiosis

           
             

            Review Date: 8/25/2014

            Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

             
             
             

             

             

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.