Medical Q&As

Actinomycosis - what is it?

What is actinomycosis? I have these little cream coloured growths that attach and grow in the back of my throat. They cause a bad taste in my mouth when they're growing. How can I stop them from forming and what causes them? I had a sample of them sent to hospital for testing and the above name is the only reply I got. Can you explain this condition to me?

Actinomycosis is an infection that produces abscesses. It usually occurs in the face and neck and is colloquially referred to as “lumpy jaw”. It is a bacterial infection caused by a member of the actinomyces species of bacteria. This organism is frequently present in the nose and throat without causing any ill effects in the majority of subjects. Actinomyces causes disease when it is introduced into the tissue of the neck or face by trauma, surgery or co-existing infection. It sometimes occurs as a result of oral surgery. Once inside the tissues the bacteria reproduce and multiply and proceed to form an abscess. Eventually the abscess bursts and drains pus, which can have a foul taste and odour. Actinomycosis can occasionally occur in the lungs and abdomen. Penicillin is very effective against this organism but it must be taken over an extended period of time. Surgical drainage of the abscesses is sometimes necessary. The prognosis is good with most people making a full recovery having undergone a full course of treatment. It is not contagious therefore there is no risk of spreading the infection to other people.