WHAT IS ACTINOMYCES?
The Actinomyces species are straight to slightly curved gram-positive bacilli that can range from short rods to long, branching rods. This anaerobic bacterium is found normally in the oral cavity, upper respiratory tract and, to a lesser extent, the gastrointestinal tract. They are not a particularly virulent species of bacteria and usually only cause infection when there is some disruption in the surface of the oral cavity or upper respiratory tract (opportunistic infection).
Also, the causative organisms, Actinomyces species (most commonly A. israelii), are often present commensally on the gums, tonsils, and teeth and may be present in the intestines and vagina.
Actinomycosis most often occurs in adult males and takes several forms:
Cervicofacial (lumpy jaw): The most common portal of entry is periodontal disease.
Thoracic: Pulmonary disease results from aspiration of oral secretions.
Abdominal: Disease presumably results from a break in the mucosa of a diverticulum or the appendix or from trauma.
Uterine: This localized pelvic form is a complication of certain types of intrauterine device (IUD).
Generalized: Rarely, the infection spreads from primary sites, presumably by hematogenous seeding.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF ACTINOMYCES
Actinomycosis is a long-term (chronic) bacterial infection that commonly affects the face and neck. It is usually caused by the bacterium called Actinomyces israelii. This is a common organism found in the nose and throat. Actinomycosis most commonly affects the face and neck. The infection can sometimes occur in the chest (pulmonary actinomycosis), abdomen, pelvis, or other areas of the body.
1. DRAINING SORES ON THE SKIN
especially on the chest wall from lung infection with actinomyces
2. LUMPS ON THE NECK OR FACE
Swelling or a hard, red to reddish-purple lump on the face or upper neck
4. CHEST PAIN
5. WEIGHT LOSS
7. EXCESS SINUS DRAINAGE
When the bacteria enter the tissues of the face after trauma, surgery, or infection, it triggers dental abscess or oral surgery.
Once in the tissue, the bacteria cause an abscess, producing a hard, red to reddish-purple lump, often on the jaw, from which comes the condition’s common name, “lumpy jaw.”
Eventually, the abscess breaks through the skin surface to produce a draining sinus tract.
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