Actinomycosis is a bacterial infection that affects the face and neck, often referred to as “lump jaw.” The infection can appear in other parts of the body, including the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Actinomycosis is caused by the Actinomycetaceae family of bacteria, which normally live harmlessly in the lining of the mouth, throat, digestive system and vagina, entering damaged tissue after trauma, surgery or other infection. Because it often develops as a secondary infection, actinomycosis can be difficult to prevent. However, there are some practical steps you can take to avoid certain cases of actinomycosis and, if you do develop an infection, it is important that you recognize its symptoms and understand your treatment options.
The steps below are steps that will help you avoid actinomycosis
1) Practice good oral hygiene.
Oral cervicofacial actinomycosis is the most common form of actinomycosis, constituting 50-70 percent of all cases. It is usually the result of poor dental hygiene, so it is important that you maintain your tooth and gum health. This will help prevent the development of any infections in your mouth due to gum disease and tooth decay, as well as limit the chances of infection if you are injured or have oral surgery. Brush your teeth twice a day.Floss daily.Regularly replace your toothbrush. Visit your dentist on a regular basis. It is recommended that you visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups.Other predisposing factors include dental caries and extractions, gingivitis and gingival trauma, infection during teething, diabetes, malnutrition, immunosuppression, and neoplasia or radiation. Treating the underlying condition (i.e. Diabetes) may help in the treatment of actinomyces infection.
2) Avoid swallowing or inhaling foreign objects.
Certain cases of thoracic and abdominal actinomycosis are caused by the ingestion or inhalation of foreign objects. Infections of the chest and lungs are typically caused by breathing infected fluid, generally saliva, into the lungs. In the abdomen, it is usually the result of having swallowed a foreign object (animal bone, coin, or other small item) that then causes a wound or infection in the intestines. In order to avoid getting actinomycosis in this way, try not to inhale the bodily fluids or other people or swallow anything your body will not be able to digest. If you have a long-term drug and alcohol problem, you are at higher risk of the infection because intoxication makes it easier to ingestion or inhale foreign objects. Plus, drug and alcohol abuse weakens your immune system.
3) Monitor facial and abdominal infections.
If you have appendicitis and your appendix bursts, abdominal actinomycosis can often develop if the intestines are damaged by the infected bile or during surgery. Actinomycosis can also develop in the head and neck as the result of an ear infection or tonsillitis. Be sure to visit a doctor if you develop any of these infections and follow their recommendations. This will help you avoid developing a secondary infection of actinomycosis.
4) Remove your intrauterine device (IUD) when recommended.
Pelvic actinomycosis is the rarest manifestation of the infection, accounting for only 10 percent of all cases. It usually only occurs when an IUD is left in the uterine wall longer than the manufacturer recommends. In order to avoid this infection, follow your doctor’s instructions about properly maintaining your IUD and, if an infection develops, have the IUD removed. Some IUDs can only stay uterus for only a few years. Others can stay attached for almost a decade. Check with your health care provider to make sure you know when to have your IUD removed.
If the disease happens to occur and you need prove below are the laid down steps to perform
1) Observe the symptoms of oral cervicofacial actinomycosis.
If you have actinomycosis in your face and neck, you will develop reddish or bluish colored lumps, which may initially be painful but later become painless. You may also run a high fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius). You may also have small passages, known as sinus tracts, that open up on the surface of your skin that leak pus and contain a crusty yellow discharge. The development of facial lumps is where the disease gets its colloquial name of “lump jaw.”Facial lumps include symptoms due to abscess formation, drainage of sinus tracts, fistula formation, and fibrosis.Do not confuse the sinus tracts that develop as a result of actinomycosis with the sinus cavities in your face and nose.
2)Note the symptoms of thoracic actinomycosis.
Actinomycosis of the lungs and chest cavity will cause you to run a high fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius), experience some chest pain and feel fatigued. The infection will also likely cause a decrease in appetite and, subsequently, result in weight loss. You may also develop a dry cough and experience some shortness of breath. You may also develop sinus tracts on your chest.If you develop a cough, you may produce phlegm or even blood.
3) Recognize the symptoms of abdominal actinomycosis.
Actinomycosis of the abdomen will result in a mild fever (less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius), fatigue, abdominal pain, and weight loss. You will also likely experience digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. These are nonspecific symptoms that may also be present in diseases such as malignancy, crohn’s disease, and tuberculosis. Your doctor must have a high degree of suspicion has to make a diagnosis. You may also develop noticeable lumps and sinus tracts on your abdomen.
4) Look for the symptoms of pelvic actinomycosis.
Actinomycosis of the pelvis will result in a mild fever (less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius), fatigue and a loss of appetite. You will also likely experience some lower abdominal pain and irregular or abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge. You will also notice the development of lumps and sinus tracts in your pelvic area. Approximately 7% of women with IUDs have actinomyces present on their Pap Smear.
Ways of treating actimycosis involves
1) Visit to a doctor when symptoms are noticed
2) Use of antifungal drugs, since this is a fungi disease drugs like fluconazole, caspofungi can be used
3) If the disease is now systemic which means that it has grown into the organs of the body surgical method is the only alternative to eliminate it.