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Upper Respiratory Infection
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Upper Respiratory Infection

Hi Doctor,


Ok, previous to this post I'd had a cough which switched between dry and "wet" quite frequently.  The cough started in the middle of January, and continued (with other symptoms coming and going like sore throat and muscle aches) for around 2 months.  At this point, I became a little concerned and went to my University doctor, they claimed it was viral bronchitis, then oddly enough gave me an antibiotic...
At any rate, the symptoms did indeed drop off, and practically go away altogether after taking the medication for 5 days.  Then, just two days ago, the symptoms returned, and quickly.  Dry cough that came on in uncontrollable hacking phases, a sore throat caused by the cough, muscle aches and fatigue.  Worse, my girlfriend woke up yesterday with the same symptoms, but with chills and headache as well ! (Coincidence?)  Then this morning I hacked up a mucus that was dark yellow/green with a tough of red in it.  Since then I've been hacking up smaller versions of the same thing every time I cough.

What's going on doctor?  Was it really bronchitis that I had?? Was it perhaps bacterial and the other doctor didn't realize?  What should I do now?

Thank you for your response!

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This history suggests that your illness did respond to the antibiotic, but that treatment may have not been given for long enough.    That, and the fact that your girl friend came down with the same illness also suggest an infectious cause.  Your description of the mucous is worrisome.

You both should be seen and have chest-X-rays along with sputum cultures so that you can be treated with the proper antibiotic for an extended period of time.

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You should probably call your doctor back. If you have a bacterial infection, it might be caused by a bacteria that is resistant to the antibiotic you just took. If you took it for five days, I'm guessing you took Z-pak.

The Ph.D. microbiologist at our lab told me recently that there are cases of community-acquired bacterial pneumonia that are resistant to azithromycin (Z-pak) showing up here and there.

Chills and fever, with purulent blood flecked green sputum are not a good sign. Normal sputum does not look like this. Believe me, I've set up hundreds, if not thousands of sputa over my 31 year career as a medical technologist, and these types of specimens usually show a lot of white cells, which means your body is trying to fight off something.

My husband recently went through a similar chain of events, except he has asthma on top of everything else. He was coughing up blood - not a lot, just enough to make him worry. He ended up with a CT scan of his lungs, his doc put him on Levaquin (a quinolone antibiotic), and he eventually had a bronchoscopy, which showed an extra bronchus, which apparently is catching mucus when he has a cold and breeding a nasty bronchitis which causes the heavy coughing and hacking. Right now he's fine, and his bronchoscopy cultures came out negative. His scans did show a small area of bronchiectasis which is now permanent (not a good thing) but according to the doc, it is small (a good thing).

Call someone soon.
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