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What Are Common Causes of MRSA in the Lungs?

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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 April 2014
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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, can cause serious and potentially life-threatening infections. Though these types of infections occur more frequently on the skin, there are some common factors which can cause MRSA in the lungs. People who spend time in settings where MRSA is common, such as patients in hospitals, are more likely to become infected. Those with compromised immune systems or existing lung infections are also more susceptible. The use of a ventilator to help with breathing can also make people more likely to develop MRSA in their lungs.

Treatment in a health care setting is frequently the cause of a MRSA infection in the lungs. Hospitals and other treatment facilities house numerous patients, some of whom may be carrying the bacteria. Due to the close proximity of the patients, MRSA is frequently passed from one person to another. Those who require long-term care may be more likely to develop an infection, as their extended stay in a health care setting gives them a greater chance for exposure.

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MRSA in the lungs is more likely to occur in people with a compromised immune system. Many people are exposed to MRSA on their skin or in their nasal passages but do not develop infections; certain diseases, however, such as HIV/AIDS, decrease the ability of sufferers to fight off infections from the bacteria. Some medical treatments, like chemotherapy, may also decrease immune function, making patients more susceptible. The fact that these types of people may also spend a significant amount of time in hospitals and other health care facilities where MRSA is common only contributes to the problem.

People whose lungs are already weakened by other diseases may tend to develop MRSA in the lungs as well. Those with diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema, or lung cancer already have weakened or damaged lungs. If the MRSA bacteria is present, the compromised tissue may be attacked and infected more easily than healthy lung tissue.

Being on a ventilator can lead to MRSA in the lungs. Patients who need assistance breathing while being treated for an injury or during an operation have a tube run down their trachea to their lungs. In some people, the presence of this tube seems to compromise their lungs, allowing infection to set in. Again, the fact that these people are usually in a hospital setting and therefore often exposed to MRSA only makes infection more likely.

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Discuss this Article

lluviaporos
Post 3

You have to be careful to investigate this kind of thing when you're picking hospitals. My mother was being treated for chest pains in a hospital where they were being perfectly nice to her, until she told them that her pacemaker had been put in at a hospital that was known to have some of the antibiotic resistant bacteria (I can't remember if it was MRSA or another type).

As soon as they knew that, they isolated her in a very run down room and none of the nurses would go near her, even though the pacemaker had been put in months ago. She was swabbed, but told the results would only be available in three days time. Until then, they basically treated her as though she was infected, which I guess is a good thing for every other patient, but it was very strange and scary for my mother.

MrsPramm
Post 2

@indigomoth - Being infected with MRSA isn't great, but for a healthy person it's not a huge deal. Most people are perfectly capable of overcoming a bacterial infection on their own without antibiotics, and a MRSA caused disease isn't any worse than a disease caused by non-resistant bacteria.

Which is not to say that it isn't a problem that these diseases exist. The problem is mainly with patients who are already weak and not as able to fight off the disease on their own.

There are also still options for medications that can help to eliminate these bugs. We just need to be more careful about how we administer them.

indigomoth
Post 1

It's unfortunate and ironic that one of the few places you're quite likely to get MRSA is a hospital. I've heard of fairly healthy people who have gone into a hospital for a standard procedure and ended up getting a serious infection because of this bacteria strain.

The scary thing is, we could end up back where we started in terms of modern medicine if this tendency to create antibiotic resistant bacteria isn't stopped.

Doctors just give out antibiotics too often and patients don't take the full course when they really should. When you add to that the fact that antibiotics are routinely given to farm animals before they even get sick (which can also create antibiotic resistant bacteria) the future seems even more bleak.

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