When To Call a Doctor
The faster you get treatment,
the faster you will get over
pneumonia. This is especially true for the very young,
for people older than 65, and for anyone with other long-lasting (chronic)
health problems, such as
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you:
- Have chest pain that is crushing or squeezing, is increasing in
intensity, or occurs with any other
symptoms of a heart attack.
- Have such bad
trouble breathing that you are worried you will not have the strength or
ability to keep breathing.
- Cough up large amounts of
- Feel that you may faint when you sit up or stand.
Call a doctor immediately if you
- A cough that produces blood-tinged or
mucus from the lungs.
- A fever with shaking
- Difficult, shallow, fast breathing with shortness of breath
Call a doctor if your cough:
- Frequently brings up yellow or green mucus from
the lungs and lasts longer than 2 days. Do not confuse mucus from your lungs
with mucus running down the back of your throat from your nasal passages
(postnasal drip). Postnasal drainage is not a worry.
- Occurs with a
fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or
higher and brings up yellow or green mucus from the lungs (not postnasal
- Causes you to vomit a lot.
- Continues longer
than 4 weeks.
Also call your doctor if you have new chest pain (more than
just discomfort when you cough) that gets worse with deep breathing and if you
have other symptoms of pneumonia, such as shortness of breath, cough, and
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If
you get better on your own, you won't need treatment. If you get worse, you and
your doctor will decide what to do next.
Home treatment may be
- You have classic cold symptoms (nasal
stuffiness, mild body aches or headache, mild fever).
- You cough up
mucus that is running down the back of the throat from the
nasal passages (postnasal drip). But a cough in which the mucus is definitely
coming from the lungs rather than the nasal passages is a more serious problem,
and you should contact your doctor.
- You have signs of the flu (high
fever, severe muscle aches or headache, and mild respiratory symptoms). For
more information, see the topic
Who to see
Health professionals who can diagnose and treat
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
March 17, 2011
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