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I understand that inhalation of food or stomach contents has a very high risk of causing pneumonia. Is routine sinus mucus , not caused by a cold of other illness, likely to cause pneumonia if inhaled ?

  • "Aspiration pneumonia" after inhaling food or stomach contents can develop due to chemical irritation of the lungs by "foreign objects" or acid. Sinus mucus, especially if non-infectious, naturally appears in the respiratory system, so it does not act as a foreign object and inhaling some of it should not cause lung disease. On the other hand, a person with the flu who inhales some of sinus mucus containing flu viruses could develop pneumonia. – Jan Nov 13 '19 at 10:47
  • @Jan I'm skeptical of your last sentence. If you already have the flu why would inhaling mucus cause pneumonia? The virus is already present, so it's just mucus. – Carey Gregory Nov 13 '19 at 15:27
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    The flu usually affects only the upper respiratory system, so the flu viruses will be present in significant amounts only in the nose and throat and in the related mucus (yes, also in muscles, I know). Inhaling the infected mucus from the nose into the lungs by a person with low immunity could increase the risk of pneumonia. That's just my reasoning and the inhalation of mucus would not be actually required, since viruses can travel to the lungs just by air. I was about to answer this, but I'm waiting if the question will survive - it's a good question. – Jan Nov 13 '19 at 15:38
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    @Jan I see no reason why the question won't survive. – Carey Gregory Nov 13 '19 at 18:54
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    Certain bacteria and fungi that are inhaled through the nose COULD cause pneumonia this way - e.g. TB, cocci, histo, blasto, etc. Even just inhaling saliva CAN lead to bacterial aspiration pneumonia (beyond the chemical pneumonitis) depending on what bacteria are hanging around and in what quantity. The frequency with which this actually occurs is not well studied, however, from what I have seen thus far, so I won't leave this as an answer since I don't have great references. – DoctorWhom Nov 14 '19 at 6:46

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