Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Could My Cough Be Pneumonia?

Monday, 28 June 2010 04:23 PM

Question: I recently attended a ballgame and got carried away rooting for my team. Afterward, I was hoarse and coughed so much that I had trouble sleeping. This happened a week ago and it's only slowly getting better. Any suggestions for treatment?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

By the third day or so I would have been at my medical doctor's office for some advice, especially with difficulty sleeping.

Pneumonia (infection of the actual tissue of the lung) and bronchitis (inflammation and infection of the bronchi, the large passageways for air leading to both lungs) are leading contenders here, and are best treated sooner rather than later. I usually quote two days in extra symptoms for every day you delay starting effective treatment — not to mention transmission of your infection to others around you.

Your awakening at night was possibly due to airway issues and needs proper evaluation. Check your peak flow rate using a simple hand-held device available from your local pharmacist, and give the readings to your doctor. If the readings are below expected, your doctor should probably order a pulmonary function test (a lung test with no needles), a chest X-ray, and appropriate lab work, such as blood tests, to further evaluate your condition.

My answer is to stop treating thyself and visit your medical doctor pronto for proper evaluation and treatment.

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