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Alternative Names Return to topPneumonia in immunodeficient patient
Definition Return to top
Pneumonia in an immunocompromised host describes a lung infection that occurs in a person whose ability to fight infection is greatly reduced.
Causes Return to top
People who are immunocompromised have a defective immune response. Because of this, they are susceptible to infections by germs that typically do not cause disease in healthy people. They are also more vulnerable to the usual causes of pneumonia, which can affect anyone.
Immunosuppression can be caused by:
Symptoms Return to top
Other symptoms that may occur:
Exams and Tests Return to top
The doctor may hear crackles or other abnormal breath sounds when listening to the chest with stethoscope. Lack of breath sounds can be an important sign, because it may mean there is a buildup of fluid between the chest wall and lung.
Tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Antibiotics or antifungal medicines are used, depending on the type of germ that is causing the infection. Patients usually must stay in the hospital, at least during the early stages of the illness.
Oxygen and respiratory treatments to remove fluid and mucus are often needed.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome may be poor if the pneumonia is caused by a virus or fungus, or if the patient is severely immunosuppressed.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you are immunosuppressed and you have symptoms of pneumonia.
Prevention Return to top
Limit exposure of immunocompromised people to others who are ill.
References Return to top
Moran GJ, Talan DA. Pneumonia. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006: chap 75.
Baldwin Dr, Macfarlane JT. Community-acquired pneumonia. In: Cohen J, Powderly WG, eds. Infectious Diseases. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Elsevier; 2004: chap 34.
Donowitz GR, Mandell GL. Acute pneumonia. In: Mandell GL, Bennett Je, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2005: chap 61.
Mandell LA, Wunderink RG, Anzueto A, et al. Infectious Diseases Society of America/American Thoracic Society consensus guidelines on the management of community-acquired pneumonia in adults. Clin Infect Dis. 2007 Mar 1;44 Suppl 2:S27-72.
American Thoracic Society. Guidelines for the management of adults with hospital-acquired, ventilator-associated, and healthcare-associated pneumonia. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Feb 15;171(4):388-416.Update Date: 9/17/2008 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.