Symptoms of actinomycosis 

There are four main types of actinomycosis. Symptoms will vary depending on which type you have.

The symptoms of each type are described below.

Oral cervicofacial actinomycosis

The symptoms of oral cervicofacial actinomycosis include:

  • swollen lumps on your cheek or neck, which can gradually increase in size and number
  • reddish or bluish-coloured skin over the lumps
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above may also occasionally develop

During the initial stages of oral cervicofacial actinomycosis, the lumps may be tender before later becoming painless and hard to the touch. Your jaw muscles may also be affected, which can make chewing difficult.

Oral cervicofacial actinomycosis can also cause narrow passages called sinus tracts to open in the surface of your skin in the affected areas. These shouldn't be confused with sinuses, which are the cavities in your face and nose.

The sinus tracts leak pus, which may contain a yellow, granular, lumpy material.

Thoracic actinomycosis

The symptoms of thoracic actinomycosis may include:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • weight loss
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath 
  • chest pain
  • the appearance of sinus tracts on the surface of your chest

You may also develop a dry cough or a cough that produces phlegm. You may bring up drops of blood when you cough, or if you produce phlegm it may be bloodstained.

Abdominal actinomycosis

The symptoms of abdominal actinomycosis may include:

  • mild fever – usually a temperature that's no higher than 38C (100.4F)
  • weight loss
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • a change in your bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhoea
  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • a noticeable mass or lump in your lower abdomen
  • the appearance of sinus tracts on the surface of your abdomen

Pelvic actinomycosis

The symptoms of pelvic actinomycosis may include:

  • lower abdominal pain
  • irregular or abnormal vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge
  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • mild fever
  • a noticeable mass or lump in your pelvis

Page last reviewed: 28/08/2014

Next review due: 28/08/2016