Coughing, sneezing, an endless runny nose, a sore throat and that just plain miserable feeling…
I know you’ve been there! Most of us have. It’s a “case of the yuckies” strong enough to wipe the “nice” right out of most Minnesotans. But, how do you know if it’s just a cold or something more serious like bronchitis, the flu or even pneumonia?
- It’s a fact that more than 3 million people develop pneumonia in the United States every year AND almost half are hospitalized because of it! Some have even suffered respiratory failure, the main cause of death in pneumonia patients.
- Bronchitis, which is an inflammation of the main passageways to the lungs, can also cause complications. If left untreated, bronchitis can develop into pneumonia.
- Symptoms of the flu can also mimic those of pneumonia and bronchitis. Some flu patients can recover at home with adequate rest, fluids, etc. But, there are cases where flu complications require a trip to the ER.
Is it a really bad head cold or severe pneumonia? When is it time for a chest x-ray or other necessary test? Here is a great checklist to help you decide if your suffering from something more serious than a bad cold:
- High Fever (Over 103-degrees) or fever comes AFTER you have had the cold for a few days
- Chest Pain Associated With The Cold That Worsens When You Cough or Breathe Deeply
- Extreme Fatigue, dizziness, short of breath
- Coughing Up Mucous or Even Blood
- Decreased Appetite
In children, it’s often harder to pinpoint a cold or more serious illness, especially with infants. And, because pneumonia and RSV are potentially fatal sicknesses, it’s best to have a checklist based on visual cues. Parents, here’s what to look for:
- Cyanosis – Lips or Nailbeds Turn Blue
- Difficulty Breathing - chest retracts (skin pulls in and out between each rib or child is straining their neck muscles with each breath) or nasal flaring
- Vomiting and/or Not Eating or Drinking
- Coughing Up Mucous or Blood
- High Fever (Over 102 degrees)
If your children show any of these symptoms, head on in to the Urgency Room in Woodbury to get checked out by one of our physicians. Better safe than sorry. And for the rest of us, let’s do our best to keep ourselves healthy, happy and “Minnesota nice” this winter!
Dr. Gary Gosewisch is the Emergency Medicine Specialist and CEO of the in Woodbury.