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What Do the Lungs Sound Like in Cases of Pneumonia?

written by: Carmen Tomas • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/19/2010

Some people ignore a cough, but in some cases, a cough can become problematic. Learn what pneumonia lung sounds mean and why you should seek help instead of ignoring this symptom.

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    Pneumonia is normally a complication of another ailment, such as flu or influenza. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.3 percent of the reported deaths during the pandemic of the influenza A H1N1 virus in 2009 were due to pneumonia or influenza.

    Many symptoms of pneumonia mimic those of ordinary flu-like symptoms. This is why it is very important to recognize pneumonia lung sounds so that it can be treated immediately.

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    Pneumonia is primarily caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Fungi and parasites can also cause pneumonia. When you contract pneumonia, your lungs become inflamed and you experience flu-like symptoms such as:

    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath
    • Cough
    • Fluctuating chest pains
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle pains
    • Sweating and chills
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    Seek Medical Help

    Most people do not realize they have pneumonia because of the symptoms. They believe that they only have the flu when they are suffering from a more serious condition. Pneumonia, however, can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated immediately. Seek immediate medical advice if your cough has become persistent and you are suffering from chest pains; if you have a fever for a longer period of time than normal flu and if it is higher than 102 degrees F with combined chills and sweats. You may feel a little weak if you are recovering from flu, but if you feel a lot worse, visit your doctor immediately for an examination.

    Adults age 65 and older, smokers and those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, people with chronic illnesses and those with a weakened immune system have a higher risk of contracting pneumonia. It can be life threatening condition for them if pneumonia is not treated promptly.

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    Pneumonia Lung Sounds

    During your physical examination, your doctor will need the use of stethoscope to listen to your lungs. It is one of the most important tools that can diagnose pneumonia. Here are some of the sounds that may indicate you have pneumonia:

    • Your lungs will make bubbling and crackling sounds when you inhale.
    • Rales sounds will be heard on one side of the chest when you are lying down.
    • There are abnormal rumbling sounds coming from your lungs. This may indicate there is sputum present in the large airways.
    • The doctor will do a percussion test wherein he will tap your chest lightly and listen to its sound. A hollow drum-like sound should be heard. If a dull thud is heard instead, this may suggest that the condition has developed into pneumonia.

    Once the doctor performs these diagnostic tests, he may require you to have a chest x-ray, CBC blood test, CT or CAT scan, sputum test or pleural fluid culture. The doctor will put you on an appropriate treatment plan once the presence and type of pneumonia has been confirmed. Antibiotics, antiviral, and antifungal medications are normally prescribed to those with pneumonia.

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    Prevention is better than cure so the best chance not to get pneumonia is to prevent the most common cause of it which is seasonal flu. Get your yearly flu shot to decrease the risk especially if you are included in the high risk group. Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol excessively. Living a healthy lifestyle and having a healthy diet also helps in boosting the immune system which in turn fights of bacteria and viruses that causes flu and other common ailments.