Lipoid (Lipid) Pneumonia Symptoms and Treatment

The word “lipoid” means “to swell up”. It is a common medical term describing any swelling or enlargement of body tissues due to fluid accumulation. A typical example would be a boil which becomes larger when it comes into contact with water. When liquid is added to the boil, the liquid expands causing the tissue around the boil to expand as well.

A similar situation occurs in the lungs. Liquid from the bloodstream enters the lung cells where it causes them to enlarge. The lung cells then begin to fill with fluid until they burst. Lung failure may result if not treated promptly.

Symptoms of Lipoid Pneumonia:

Lung Failure:

1) Chest Pain – May occur suddenly or gradually develop over time.

If left untreated, chest pain can progress rapidly leading to collapse and respiratory failure.

2) Shortness of Breath – May become short and wheezy.

Breathing becomes difficult and painful.

3) Difficulty Getting Enough Air Into the Lungs – May experience difficulty breathing even with assistance.

4) Sudden Death: If not treated promptly, sudden death may occur within hours to days after onset of symptoms.

Death occurs mainly due to a lack of oxygen reaching the brain.

Coughing Up Blood or Bloody Mucous:

1) Blood may begin to appear with the mucous, phlegm, or sputum that is coughed up.

This can be long before shortness of breath becomes apparent. A small amount of blood may also be present in the sputum.

2) Large amounts of blood in the sputum may occur with a sputum that looks like coffee-grounds.

This is a serious condition and requires hospital care.

3) Blood in the sputum is often seen in smokers or those who have been exposed to harmful fumes or gases.

Treatment of Lipoid Pneumonia:

1) Hospital Care is needed for treatment.

The patient will be placed on oxygen as well as a breathing machine (ventilator). An x-ray will be taken to determine the extent of lung damage.

2) Antibiotics are capable of killing most of the bacteria that are causing the lipoid pneumonia.

3) The fluid that has accumulated in the lungs is removed by a chest tube.

4) After the chest tube is removed, a breathing treatment is given every 2-4 hours to keep the lungs clear of fluid.

5) Physicians have different views on whether steroids are useful in the treatment of lipoid pneumonia.

Some physicians prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation while others do not.

6) Most patients respond favorably to treatment and most can expect a complete recovery if treated promptly.

However, some patients may not respond to treatment and may suffer a relapse or die from the disease.

7) Physicians do not fully understand the causes of lipoid pneumonia.

However, it is known that anyone who has been exposed to oil – crude oil, diesel fuel, mineral oil or other oil products – is at risk for lipoid pneumonia. Also, those people who smoke, are over weight, or have a weakened immune systems have a higher chance of developing lipoid pneumonia.

8) If you have any of the above symptoms, do not wait to seek medical treatment.

Thank you for your attention.

Sources & references used in this article:

Respiratory failure caused by lipoid pneumonia from vaping e-cigarettes by D Viswam, S Trotter, PS Burge, GI Walters – Case Reports, 2018 –

Lipoid pneumonia: a preventable complication by E Meltzer, L Guranda, L Vassilenko, M Krupsky… – IMAJ-RAMAT …, 2006 –

The problem of lipid pneumonia: a brief review by PR Cannon – Journal of the American Medical Association, 1940 –

Lipoid pneumonia: an uncommon entity by GC Khilnani, V Hadda – Indian journal of medical sciences, 2009 –

Exogenous lipoid pneumonia caused by repeated sesame oil pulling: a report of two cases by M Kuroyama, H Kagawa… – … medicine, 2015 –

Early lipoid pneumonia: roentgenologic, anatomic and physiologic characteristics by H Weill, VJ Ferrans, RM Gay, MM Ziskind – … American journal of medicine, 1964 – Elsevier