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Actinomycosis is an infectious disease caused by the Actinomyces bacteria . Actinomycosis or actinomycosis can occur in various organs of the body, such as the mouth, chest, pelvis, and stomach.

Actinomycosis is characterized by the appearance of ulcers or abscesses in the infected body part. This condition can be caused by the spread of infection from other parts of the body. Actinomycosis is not contagious and is often found in tropical countries. This disease is rare, but can be dangerous for the sufferer.

Causes of Actinomycosis

The cause of actinomycosis is the bacteria Actinomyces israelii and Actinomyces gerencseriae which normally live in the oral cavity, digestive tract, and urinary tract. Actinomycosis occurs when these bacteria enter other parts of the body during tissue damage.

There are several things that can increase a person's risk of developing actinomycosis, including:

  • Have a weak immune system, for example due to the use of certain drugs or a disease, such as HIV .
  • Experiencing malnutrition .
  • Suffering from diabetes .
  • Frequently consuming excessive amounts of alcohol .
  • Experiencing tissue damage from injury, surgery, and radiotherapy .
  • Dental hygiene and health are not maintained properly.
  • The use of the IUD ( spiral KB ) exceeds the time it should be.

Symptoms of Actinomycosis

In general, actinomycosis is characterized by the presence of an abscess or ulcer at the site of infection. In addition to the appearance of an abscess, other symptoms that can appear are:

  • Fever .
  • Swelling at the infected site
  • Drastic weight loss.

Actinomycosis can occur anywhere on the body. Other symptoms that appear will depend on the location of the infection.

If actinomycosis occurs in the mouth (oral) area, the symptoms that appear are:

  • Discoloration of the skin around the mouth becomes red or bluish.
  • Swelling in the mouth.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw and mouth normally.

If actinomycosis occurs in the chest, additional symptoms may occur, such as:

  • Coughing dry or coughing up phlegm, and sometimes bleeding.
  • Shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • There is fluid in the lungs which is sometimes followed by the appearance of lumps in the lung area.

If actinomycosis occurs in the abdomen, additional symptoms that may appear are:

  • Stomach ache.
  • A lump or swelling appears in the lower abdomen.
  • Diarrhea or constipation .
  • Nausea and vomiting.

If actinomycosis occurs in the pelvic area, additional symptoms that may appear are:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • There is bleeding in the vagina or discharge from the vagina.

When to go to the doctor

Immediately see a doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned above, especially if you have a fever accompanied by swelling in one part of the body. In addition, an examination by a doctor is also necessary if you have risk factors such as suffering from a disease or are taking drugs that can affect the immune system.

Diagnosis of Actinomycosis

To diagnose actinomycosis, the doctor will ask questions about the symptoms experienced by the patient and the patient's medical history, illness, and treatment. After that, the doctor will perform a thorough physical examination.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform additional examinations in the form of:

Laboratory test

Laboratory tests that can be done to diagnose actinomycosis are:

  • Tissue culture, which is a procedure to take a sample of tissue, pus, and fluid from the abscess to be examined by the culture method. This examination is done to identify the type of bacteria present in the tissue.
  • Blood test , which is the procedure of taking a sample of the patient's blood. This test is done to identify infections in the blood.


The doctor can also ask the patient to undergo a scan to confirm the presence of an abscess in the internal organs or not. The methods used include:

  • CT scan
  • X-ray
  • MRI

Actinomycosis Treatment

Treatment of actinomycosis is aimed at controlling the infection, relieving symptoms, and preventing complications. Some of the treatments that the doctor will do include:

Administration of drugs

The main treatment for actinomycosis is the administration of antibiotics. Several types of antibiotics will be given to treat this condition, namely penicillin , tetracycline, clindamycin, and erythromycin .

In the first stage, the doctor will give you an injectable penicillin which will then be followed by oral penicillin. The duration of oral treatment varies from person to person, but is generally up to 12 months.

If other bacterial infections are found in people with actinomycosis, the doctor will give additional antibiotics, such as clavulanate and tazobactam , to eradicate the bacteria. Especially for people with actinomycosis in the stomach area, doctors can also give additional antibiotics from the aminoglycoside group.


Surgery on actinomycosis can be done by incision (cutting) and drainage (draining) the abscess, excision or removal of damaged tissue, and removal of the abscess. Patients with actinomycosis will undergo surgery if there are the following conditions:

  • There is so much tissue damage that the damaged tissue needs to be removed. For example if there is necrosis and fistula.
  • There is a large abscess.
  • The patient did not recover with antibiotics.

Complications of Actinomycosis

Complications generally arise if not treated quickly and appropriately. Some of the complications that can occur due to actinomycosis are:

  • Osteomyelitis , especially of the jawbone, ribs, and spine.
  • Meningitis (infection and inflammation of the meninges).
  • Endocarditis .
  • Infections of the nerves.
  • Abscess in the brain.
  • Liver abscess.
  • Sepsis .

Actinomycosis can be fatal, especially if Actinomyces infection spreads to the central nervous system such as the brain and spinal cord. The mortality rate from severe actinomycosis can be as high as 28%, but this depends on the location of the actinomycosis.

Actinomycosis Prevention

Actinomycosis prevention is done by avoiding risk factors that can trigger this condition. Some steps that can be taken are:

  • Maintain oral and dental hygiene .
  • If you are injured, see a doctor immediately.
  • If you have diabetes or have a compromised immune system, talk to your doctor about how to prevent infection.
  • Users of IUD contraceptives (spiral contraceptives) must also know the expiration time of the IUD used, so that they can undergo the procedure for removing the IUD before it exceeds its usage time.
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