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Actinomycosis

Related Terms

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Background

  • Actinomycosis is a subacute-to-chronic infection that causes periodontal (gum and jaw) disease. Subacute infections are between acute and chronic in duration, while chronic infections are infections that last more than six months. Actinomycosis infections of the gums and jaws are collectively known as cervicofacial actinomycosis or lumpy jaw disease. Actinomycosis infections can also occur in the chest, abdomen, and, in women, the pelvis.
  • Actinomycosis is caused by Actinomyces species, anaerobic-to-microaerophilic bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria grow in the absence of oxygen, whereas microaerophilic bacteria grow in the presence of oxygen but can switch from aerobic respiration to fermentation, which is a type of anaerobic respiration, when oxygen is not present. Fermentation is a process in which sugar is broken down for food in the absence of oxygen. An example of fermentation is the conversion of fruit juice to alcohol by yeast organisms.
  • The most common forms of Actinomyces are Actinomyces israelii, Actinomyces gerencseriae, and Propionibacterium propionicus. Some actinomycosis infections may involve up to 5-10 different species of bacteria. This type of infection is known as a polymicrobial infection.
  • Actinomyces is commonly found among the normal bacteria in the mouth and throat. In general, the skin and the entire digestive tract normally contain a number of different bacteria and other organisms. Each area of the digestive tract contains a different collection of flora, or organisms. Even the highly acidic environment of the stomach contains bacteria adapted to live there. For an infection to develop, the bacteria must be able to penetrate beneath the surface of the skin or mucous membranes. For example, a cut in the gums or an area of inflamed gum tissue might allow an infection to develop.
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Risk Factors

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Causes

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Signs and Symptoms

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Types of the Disease

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Diagnosis

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Complications

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Research

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Future Research

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.