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Questions for Dr. Kennedy
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Posted by: Twila
Date: February 25, 2001 8:53 PM

I thought I had a cold but after a month of feeling fine except for a nagging cough that produced only clear foamy mucus, or phlegm, I saw my primary physician; he sent me in for x-rays. X-rays showed my lungs to be clear; but they discovered I have fractured two ribs, #11 on the right and #10 on the left (which explained the pain, more than a tight muscle). He still feels I could have pneumonia but not completely certain. He has me on Levaquin 500 mg. and Guiatuss AC Syrup BDC. No fever or other pneumonia-like symptoms. A couple of times now I have seen a slight yellow streaking in the mucus; twice now I have seen one small round yellow dot in the mucus; otherwise, it has been clear. I've never coughed up the amount I do now (at least 1/4 cup a day!), even when I had a real cold. What do you think?

RE: Pneumonia
Posted by: Ron Kennedy, M.D.
Date: February 26, 2001 8:33 PM

Yellow stuff out of the lungs is accumulation of white blood cells (pus). Pneumonia is diagnosed by hearing what are called "crepitant" rales on auscultation. These can also be heard in congestive heart failure, so in the absence of congestive heart failure crepitant rales are diagnostic. To find out if it is bacterial, have it cultured and if positive, sensitivity (to antibiotics) tests should be done. If it is bacterial, it should respond to antibiotics. If viral, antibiotics are useless, in fact worse than useless because if you develop a secondary bacterial pneumonia while taking an antibiotic, it will necessarily be resistant to that antibiotic. While I prefer to use natural therapies in most cases, in the case of bacterial pneumonia antibiotics are indicated. One must remember that 50% of untreated cases of pneumonia end in death, so it is nothing with which to fool around. Once you begin a course of antibiotics you must complete it without skipping a beat, otherwise you increase the chances of developing a resistant strain of bacteria. Antibiotics have been overused by people for about 60 years now and that is why there are so many resistant bacteria around these days. But properly used, they really are miraculous wonder drugs which save lives.

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