When To Call A Professional
A simple cold or bronchitis caused by a virus can share many of the same symptoms as pneumonia. Pneumonia is possible when your cough produces sputum with a green or brown color, you are having shaking chills, or you are having trouble breathing. Shortness of breath may mean that pneumonia is developing or that the breathing tubes are going into spasm and making it harder to breathe. In these cases, you should call your doctor for an urgent evaluation.
Also, if you have been diagnosed with a cold or bronchitis and symptoms are getting worse or persist after a week, you should call your doctor's office for another evaluation.
Most pneumonias are treated successfully, especially if antibiotics are started early. Pneumonia can be fatal; the very old and frail, especially those with multiple other medical conditions, are most vulnerable.
Pneumonia usually does not cause permanent damage to the lungs. Rarely, pneumonia causes an infected fluid collection around the outside of the lung, called an empyema. The empyema may require drainage with a special tube or surgery. With aspiration pneumonia, the affected lung may develop a lung abscess that needs many weeks of antibiotic therapy.
American Lung Association 1740 Broadway New York, NY 10019 Phone: (212) 315-8700 Toll-Free: (800) 586-4872 http://www.lungusa.org/
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) 6701 Rockledge Dr. P.O. Box 30105 Bethesda, MD 20824-0105 Phone: (301) 592-8573 http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/