Pneumonia: What Is Aspiration Pneumonia and Why Is it Dangerous for Your Senior?

Pneumonia of all types can be dangerous for your aging family member.

It’s especially problematic if your senior has other health issues that are challenging for her to manage. One type of pneumonia, called aspiration pneumonia, can happen at any time.

Senior Health: Aspiration Pneumonia

Senior Health: Aspiration Pneumonia

Aspiration Pneumonia Defined

Pneumonia is an illness caused by an infection in the lungs. It’s usually caused by bacteria, viruses, or even fungi. Aspiration pneumonia is a specific type that occurs when your senior breathes beverages, food, or even saliva into her lungs instead of those substances moving down her esophagus. Symptoms of this type are very similar to other types of pneumonia, including coughing, chest pain, fatigue, and even fever. Your senior might also be short of breath and just feel lousy.

Causes of Aspiration Pneumonia

The simplest answer about what causes aspiration pneumonia is that your senior breathes something into her lungs, but there’s more to it than that. Your senior may be more vulnerable to it if she has trouble swallowing or if she’s taking medications that leave her too relaxed. There may be other factors that contribute, too, such as a weakened immune system and your senior’s overall health.

Complications of Aspiration Pneumonia

The biggest reason to avoid it, beyond the fact that your senior doesn’t need that kind of stress in her lungs, is that there are big complications that can arise from this type of infection. It’s all too easy for it to spread to other parts of your senior’s body and she may even develop lung abscesses. In severe cases, respiratory failure is even possible.


If you suspect your senior has any form of this type of infection, it’s important to talk to her doctor right away. That’s also important if your senior does choke on something, even if she’s able to cough most or all of it up. Preventative antibiotics might be something her doctor opts to try just in case. In rare cases, your senior might need hospitalization. It might be a good idea for your senior to have 24-hour home care, especially if she’s at risk of another round of aspiration pneumonia.

Having a caregiver available can ensure that your senior has assistance when she needs it. Besides being able to make sure that your senior is safe and has what she needs at any given time, 24-hour home care providers are also available to stay on the lookout for signs that something isn’t quite right.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring  Home Health Care in Media, PA, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care. (484) 206-4544



Ibrahim & Mariama Suma-Keita