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Julia Kizhner
Julia Kizhner, Physician Assistant
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1126
Experience:  7 years experience working in Primary Care as well as Gastroenterology, Sleep Medicine & Weight Loss
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cranberry down she was trying to cough with a mouth full

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Julia Kishner only please. Hi Julia, My aunt was drinking cranberry juice yesterday she got too much through the straw took her awhile to get it down she was trying to cough with a mouth full. Finally she got it down, but still coughed for a few minutes. Today she has been coughing more like liquids aren't going down only with small sips. Could the cranberry juice & coughing irritated her throat yesterday & make everything today bother her throat with cough? I was reading online also about silent aspiration that worries me that she could aspirate & show no signs. I give her very small bites & sips, but sometimes she does take more from the straw before I pull it away if she is thirsty she will take a big sip. Cranberry juice is tangy & I figured it could burn her throat since she was coughing so much. I just worry now if she aspirated yesterday & also today doing the same thing every few drinks the coughing. I know before you said if her lungs were irritated with food or liquid she would continue to cough for long periods of time. But is the same said with silent aspiration? Also I have one of those pulse oximeter for your finger can it tell if she would not be breathing enough air in the case of aspiration pneumonia? I have been checking her breaths today as well it's 12 to 14 per minute. I lsten to her through the stethescope, I am not good with breathing sounds, I can hear her bowel sounds at the top of her back & her heart beat. I figure I would be able to hear something abnormal by now since I have listened to her for so long.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Julia Kizhner replied 6 years ago.

Hi Beth,


I am so sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I was out all day and just had a chance to sit down in front of the computer.


Your aunt probably did get a bit of her cranberry juice into her lungs, we call it "it went down the wrong pipe". Having said this, I do want to assure you that it absolutely doesn't mean she will get pneumonia.

When someone continuously aspirates food and drinks, eventually these particle will accumulate in some area in the lung and cause pneumonia but it usually doesn't happen from just one time. Your aunt probably aspirated a bit of juice, irritated her throat and has been coughing due to that irritation. It takes several days before pneumonia can even begin to set in which, I am sure, will not happen with your aunt.

There is no such thing as silent aspiration so I really don't think you need to be listening to your aunt's chest often. Her breathing rate is very normal, 12-14 per minute.

Signs and symptoms of aspirational pneumonia are cough with sputum, fever/chills (although it may not happen in elderly people), decreased appetite, increased sleep, increased shortness of breath. Aspirational pneumonia will not stay silent.

At this point there is not much you can do other then just observe her but again, I really do not think anything will happen.


Again, sorry for taking this long to get back to you.


Have a good night and let me know if you have any other questions.




Customer: replied 6 years ago.
There is no way to know for sure if she did get some of the juice in her lungs correct, just by the coughing? She took too big a drink & she had trouble getting it down that is why she started coughing or trying to cough with her mouth full little by little it went down, but the cough remained about 10-15 mins, by then her mouth was open coughing. I patted her on the back & lifted her arms to get her lungs expanded more. She was drinking lemonade today when she kept coughing I figure the cranberry juice irritated her throat & then the lemonade could have irritated it further. When I gave her ice tea there was no problem. She hasn't been coughing since earlier today. Do the pulse oximeters really help in telling if she is getting oxygen? It varies between 95-99 through the day. You said "When someone continuously aspirates food and drinks, eventually these particle will accumulate in some area in the lung and cause pneumonia but it usually doesn't happen from just one time" what does that mean exactly over a period of months or days it accumulates then may cause pneumonia? Do the particles ever go away in the lung or just stay there? Sorry I just want to understand. I know one of my aunts took pills from something from years ago, and they found them I think in her bile area if I remember correctly when she had surgery years later, you would think they would have dissolved.<br/><br/>Have a good night!<br/><br/>Beth
Expert:  Julia Kizhner replied 6 years ago.

Yes, there really isn't any way of knowing if any juice got into her lungs or not. Just because she coughed, it doesn't mean she aspirated. I've had many instances when I swallow something to quickly or take too big of a bite, it goes down into the windpipe (trachea) and I start coughing so I think that's what your aunt experienced as well. Because it is quite irritating for the windpipe to get any kind of food/liquid, cough can persist for several minutes simply due to irritation. If she coughed really hard, it is possible that the coughing itself irritate her throat which is why she was still coughing when she was drinking lemonade.

Pulse oxymeters are good indicators of how much oxygen is coming in and 95-99% on room air is very normal.

To clarify my statement about the duration of aspiration needed for pneumonia...there is really no specific time frame, its just if someone is in a nursing home and has frequent aspirations, over time (could be weeks, could be months) they can develop aspiration pneumonia because they are unable to cough up the food particles that were swallowed and, eventually, those swallowed particles create a warm and moist environment for bacteria to grow thus causing pneumonia.


Hope this makes sense. I will on the computer until about 4:00 pm today in case you have any other questions.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Julia,   Good morning hope you're having a good day so far. She hasn't been coughing I checked her with the pulse oximeter this morning it was 95 her breathing rate is 15 breaths per minute. Her temp varies through the day with one of those temple thermometers it can be as low as 96.8 morning to afternoon 98.7. So if someone did aspirate all the time, it would just sit in the lung it would never dissolve?
Expert:  Julia Kizhner replied 6 years ago.

Her vital signs seem normal, I am sure she will be just fine after this incident.


If someone has healthy lungs and is mobile, they can probably cough up the food particle but people who are weak and debilitated may not be able to cough it up and, it will sit in the lung. If it is food, it will not dissolve, liquid may dissolve.

Julia Kizhner and other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay I have another question do you want it here or I can open a new one it's no problem it's about my wisdeom tooth?