The Exam Room: Pneumonia & the Chest Cough Confusion

By: Yale School Of Medicine

(Weakly) Hi everybody. I'm sorry I'm not in my normal chair but I've been in bed sick for a couple days now. I wonder what I did recently that got me this sick? I love my job! [Shivers] It started out as just a fever with some general malaise, but now it's turned into a cough and, after doing a quick internet search with my symptoms, I'm worried I might have pneumonia. Of course, the Internet told me I might also have leprosy and scurvy, but those seem less likely. Now, Pneumonia is the infection of these small, cauliflower-shaped air-filled sacs that lay in the bottom of your lungs called alveoli and is more common that you think, effecting over 900-thousand people in this country a year. So to find out more info and to see if I'm one of those lucky 900-thousand, I'm going to drag my tuchas out of bed and talk to Charles Dela Cruz, a Pneumonia expert and assistant professor of Pulmonology.

So join me, my germs and Dr. Dela Cruz inside... [Coughing] Oh you know the drill by now. [Coughing] [Upbeat Piano Music] So sometimes it's very difficult to tell whether you just have the common cold or a full-blown Pneumonia. Typically, the common cold would be a runny nose and upper-respiratory symptoms, congestion, some coughing. Some of the symptoms of Pneumonia include: fevers and chills, coughing, they produce mucus and phlegm, they have sometimes have weight loss, loss of appetite and these could become more severe in certain patients. Patients who are more susceptible to such Pneumonia include the very young, the very old and also the chronically ill.

So, Pneumonia is a general definition. Pneumonia can be caused by germs, more commonly bacteria and also viruses. An example of a virus is a flu. Other germs can cause a Pneumonia like fungi, but those are for certain patients that have susceptibilities.

You usually go to your doctor, they sometimes can listen to your lungs. Typically, if there's concern for a Pneumonia, they send you to radiology to get some diagnostic imaging like a chest X-ray. Typically in an X-ray, you can see that both lungs are clear.

The Exam Room: Pneumonia & the Chest Cough Confusion

If you have Pneumonia, there are areas of the lungs that are filled with pus. It's very important to wash your hands, close your mouth if you sneeze or cough not to spread the germs around. Especially if you're susceptible to such an infection. OK, I'm back in bed and awaiting my test results but in the meantime, Dr. Dela Cruz says that the treatment of Pneumonia depends on what exactly is causing the infection, but the most common treatment is oral antibiotics.

Until next time, I'm a sick Noah Golden, and see you next month in another episode of The Exam Room. [Coughing].

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