Actinomycosis is an infection that can be caused by disease or tissue damage due to injury or medical procedures.
When something sharp damages the internal body tissues, for example, a fish bone in the throat, the bacteria can spread. Actinomycosis can likewise occur in cases of tooth decay or gum diseases.
What is actinomycosis?
Actinomycosis is a chronic bacterial disease that usually affects the face and neck and typically caused by the bacteria Actinomyces israelii. These bacteria are found in the nose and throat and normally don't cause infection in healthy tissues. They become dangerous if they spread beyond their usual environment.
Because these microorganisms are normally found in the nose and throat, actinomycosis mostly affects the face and neck. Actinomycosis can sometimes occur in the chest (pulmonary actinomycosis), abdomen, pelvis, or other parts of the body. It isn't infectious (doesn't spread to others).
9 symptoms of actinomycosis
While symptoms of actinomycosis depend on the type and location of the infection, general symptoms may include:
- Inflammation and swelling at the site of the disease
- Abscesses (pus-filled regions)
- Pus discharge from draining sores
- Weight loss
- Lumps on the neck or face
- Excess sinus drainage
- Chest pain
Related symptoms may include body ache, exhaustion, weight loss, and an overall sensation of being unwell.
How do doctors diagnose actinomycosis?
To diagnose actinomycosis, a sample of sputum, pus, or tissue may be sent to a lab for microscopic examination. Sometimes, the lab will make a culture of the sample bacteria.
Abscesses can look like cancer growth and may cause symptoms such as tuberculosis. Thus, it is important to identify and rule out other causes of similar symptoms. Your doctor may advise imaging tests such as a computed tomography scan of the affected area.
What is the treatment of actinomycosis?
Actinomycosis grows gradually but can severely affect your health. Seeking early treatment is crucial.
Since actinomycosis can persist for a long time, treatment duration may be anywhere between 8 weeks to more than a year.
Sometimes, a surgeon may drain an abscess or remove an affected part. Actinomycosis starts in the soft tissues of the body, but can contaminate nearby bone if left untreated. If contamination lives in the nasal sinuses, you may require surgery to remove the affected bone and tissue. After this, you may require a 3-month course of antibiotics to resolve the infection.
Can actinomycosis be prevented?
The following may help reduce the risk of actinomycosis:
Top What Causes Actinomycosis Related Articles
Bacterial Infections 101Get more information on bacterial skin infections, which bacteria cause food poisoning, sexually transmitted bacteria, and more. Explore the most common bacterial infections.
Mono (Infectious Mononucleosis)Infectious mononucleosis is a virus infection in which there is an increase of white blood cells that are mononuclear (with a single nucleus) "Mono" and "kissing disease" are popular terms for this very common illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Mouth Problems: TMJ, Canker Sores, Painful Gums and MoreSores, painful gums, bad breath -- what's going on in your mouth? Find out with our slideshow of the most common mouth problems. Learn about canker sores, cold sores, oral thrush, TMJ, and oral cancer. See what treatments for bad breath and other dental problems are available from your dentist.
What Are Mouth Lesions?Mouth lesions are the abnormal patches, sores, or altered texture of the mouth lining. The various mouth lesions include cuts, lumps, bumps, or ulcers (firm white patches over the mouth, lips, gums, and throat).
What Are the 4 Types of Infections?Infection occurs when germs enter your body and multiply, resulting in disease. The four main types of infections are viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic.
When Should I Worry About a Lump in My Neck?Most neck lumps are not harmful. However, in some cases, these bumps and cysts can be a sign of a serious medical condition. Consult your doctor if you also have these symptoms.