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Question:

Lingering cough from Pneumonia

Dear Ask The Doctor:
I started off with a simple cold that turned into Bronchitis, which due to not be allowed time off from work this turned into Pneumonia. I was on bed rest for 5 days with antibiotics. I went straight back to work after that and the following week I ended up with another little cold of sorts that only lasted a few days. My question is....I still have a lingering cough that flares up after I have been really active like riding my bike or working out, and through out the day I will cough up small amounts of mucus, is this normal after pneumonia?


Answer:

Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs. It can be caused by a bacteria or virus.  You mentioned you were on antibiotics - your doctor has felt your case was caused by bacteria.  The 5 days of rest is also important in the recovery of pneumonia as it allows your bodies natural immune defences to fight the infection as well.
After a pneumonia infection has resolved, it is common for inflammation and scarring to remain in the lung for some time - up to 1 month in healthy individuals.  This is generally not a concern as the infection has been killed - only the inflammation has remained. The inflammation tends to irritate the lungs causing a cough, periodic shortness of breath and laboured breathing with exertion. The inflammation will resolve in its own or may also be treated with a steroid inhaler such as those used in asthma.
The above symptoms can also occur if the infection was not effectively treated.  You should see your doctor and he will be able to determine if another course of antibiotics is warranted or if only inflammation remains in the lungs.
 


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