Actinomycosis is an infectious disease which can spread from one part of our body to another through the tissues. It can cause abscesses, pain and inflammation of the infected tissue. Actinomycosis is caused by bacterium that is already present in our bodies but in select places such as mouth, throat, digestive and urinary tracts. For any reason, if the bacterium is able to travel to different tissues of the body, it can cause the said conditions.
What causes actinomycosis?
Actinomyces bacterium is usually harmless when it remains in their territory in our body such as in mouth, throat, digestive tract etc. When these areas/organs get affected due to any disease or an accident/trauma, surgery etc, the bacteria will be to move (spread) to different parts of the body. For instance, when your dentist works on your infected tooth (Actinomyces lives in the decay of the tooth too), the bacteria will be able to sneak into the jaws and gums.
Once the bacteria gets into other parts of the body, the symptoms of infection may show up in a day or two or in some cases, it may take very long for abscess or inflammation to be seen. Sometimes, the infection can be so severe that the surrounding bone and muscles may also get affected resulting in big abscess.
Types of Actinomycosis
This type of bacterium affects mouth, jaw or throat. This type of bacteria is also seen in the dental plaque. The infection can be due to:
- Improper hygiene of mouth, gums or due to any dental problems.
- Injury or trauma to face or mouth that allows the plaque to enter the mucous membrane
- Or a dental procedure can also let the bacteria enter the mucous membrane.
Orocervicofacial Actinomycosis can cause hard and painful swelling in soft tissues of the mouth, usually knows as ‘woody’ fibrosis and/or an abscess in gums or in other regions.
This develops in airways and lungs. Typically, bacteria enter airways and lungs when we breathe. Lungs are the first organs to get affected in some cases chest cavity and the upper spine may also get infected resulting in weakness, fever, productive cough, severe weight loss.
Typically this infection occurs in the abdomen but can be found in any part of the digestive tract starting from the oesophagus to the anus. This can happen when the appendix bursts or there was any surgery done for appendicitis. Symptoms include abscesses, fever, pain, diarrhoea or constipation etc.
Pelvic Actinomycosis can spread from the vagina to other organs in the pelvis region. The infection can also be a result of long term usage of IUD (Intra Uterine Devices) used to prevent pregnancy. Symptoms include vaginal discharge, pain or swelling in the abdomen area.
If left untreated, actinomycosis can infect the central nervous system. Though this happens very rarely, it is still a possibility.
Symptoms of Actinomycosis infection
- Swelling and inflammation at the site of infection.
- Pus filled Abscesses
- Chest Pain
- Excess Sinus Drainage
- Damage to the surrounding tissue
- Pain, fever and body pains
The severity of the symptoms depend on the severity of the infection and the site where infected.
How does HBOT help treat Actinomycosis infection?
As we have been talking on our website and in several articles, HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) is a healthy supply of near 100% oxygen at 2.5 to 3 times that of normal atmospheric pressure. This results in supply of more oxygen dissolution in the blood and more oxygen is carried to the organs of the body through the red blood cells and the plasma.
In order for any injury (caused either by an infection or a surgery or by accident) to heal, supply of oxygen is a must. When an organ or muscle is injured/hurt, that damages the blood vessels in the area which in turn stops the supply of much needed oxygen. In case of HBOT, more oxygen is supplied to the injured area. The process of angiogenesis creates new blood vessels which also help in carrying more oxygen to the affected area. Supply of necessary oxygen helps in healing the affected organ or muscle or any part of the body. In case of Actinomycosis, HBOT becomes an option when traditional/conventional medicines are not of much help in healing the damaged organ/tissue inside the body.
HBOT also helps in production of hydrogen peroxide that is harmful to anaerobic bacteria such as actinomycosis. Hydrogen peroxide in combination with oxygen derived radicals eliminates the bacteria that are causing actinomycosis.