CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Actinomycosis

Definition

Actinomycosis is a bacterial infection that results in collections of pus in the body.

Abdominal Abscess

Abdominal Abscess
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

Actinomycosis is most often caused by infection by specific bacteria. This is normally present in the mouth, and sometimes in the intestines. The jaw is most commonly involved, with lung and abdominal infections being less common. Rarely, women may develop abscesses in the reproductive organs or bladder.

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your risk of actinomycosis include:

  • Having a dental disease or recent dental surgery
  • Liquids or solids that are sucked into the lungs
  • Having bowel surgery
  • Swallowing fragments of chicken or other bones
  • Having an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) in place for many years
  • Diabetes
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Malnutrition
  • Tissue damage
  • Chronic granulomatous disease or other disorder that affects the immune system (children)

Symptoms    TOP

Actinomycosis may cause:

  • Hard swellings that are usually painless and located around the mouth, neck, or jaw
  • Swellings that may produce pus containing tiny, yellowish particles
  • Drainage of pus through the skin of the chest or abdomen
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Cough that produces sputum or blood
  • Noticeable swelling or firm mass in the abdomen, especially the lower part

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:

  • Analyses of pus, sputum, or tissue
  • X-ray

Treatment    TOP

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Actinomycosis is treated with long-term antibiotics and by draining pus-containing abscesses.

Prevention    TOP

The best way to reduce your chances of developing actinomycosis is to prevent dental disease by practicing good dental hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist. You should:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly

RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
http://www.mouthhealthy.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Dental Association
http://www.cda-adc.ca

References:

Cervicofacial actinomycosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated October 20, 2011. Accessed September 27, 2016.
Hall V. Actinomyces—gathering evidence of human colonization and infection. Anaerobe. 2008;14(1):1-7.
Naik NH, Russo TA. Bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw: the role of actinomyces. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;49(11):1729-1732.
Sullivan DC, Chapman SW. Bacteria that masquerade as fungi: actinomycosis/nocardia. Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2010;7(3):216-221.
Last reviewed May 2016 by David Horn, MD
Last Updated: 6/20/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000