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Alternative Names Return to topNocardiosis - pulmonary
Definition Return to top
Pulmonary nocardiosis is an infection of the lung with the bacteria, Nocardia asteroides.
Causes Return to top
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:
Other people at risk include those with chronic lung problems related to smoking, emphysema, or other infections such as tuberculosis.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
The goal of treatment is to control the infection. Antibiotics are used, but the response to treatment may be slow and you must keep taking the medications for at least 3 months. Patients who have medication allergies will need to take other antibiotics.
Surgery may be needed to remove or drain infected areas.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome is usually good with quick diagnosis and treatment. The outcome is poor when the infection spreads and treatment is delayed.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
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 Return to top
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 Return to top
Southwick FS. Nocardiosis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 351.Update Date: 9/13/2008 Updated by: Benjamin Medoff, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.