Navigate Up

Neurology Center - A-Z Index

#
J
Q
X
Y
Z

Print This Page

Pulmonary nocardiosis

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

Alternative Names

Nocardiosis - pulmonary

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

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┬ámedicines that weaken the immune system for a long time
  • Cushing disease
  • Had an organ transplant
  • 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
  • Nervous system
    • Change in mental state
    • Confusion
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Seizures
  • Skin

Signs and tests

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.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome is often good when diagnosed and treated quickly.,

The outcome is poor when the infection spreads outside the lung, treatment is delayed, or the patient has serious underlying diseases.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

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

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: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 32.

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

Updated: 8/30/2012

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com