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Chest tightness, dry cough and fatigue after aspiring food. X-ray normal. Infection chances?

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Pediatrician, Infectious Diseases
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1528 Questions
I choked hard on some toast this past Wedneday, and went into an involuntary coughing episode that lasted 40 minutes and I felt like I had something in my lungs, I coughed a bit of mucous up with small bits of toast in it. I went in for an xray and they said everything looked clear. That was 4 days ago, today I feel like I have bronchitis, tight chest, very tired, dry cough.... and I wondered if I could have apsiration puenomia even if they xray right after the choking incident was clear, like could it take a few days to develop?
Posted Wed, 18 Apr 2012 in Lung and Chest disorders
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 5 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
Aspiration Pneumonia usually does take few days to develop after an episode of aspiration. The initial response to aspiration might be just an irritation of airways or a mild inflammation (pneumonitis) of lung which may resolve soon or in a couple of days. In such cases, there may be no X XXXXXXX findings initially as they may take several hours to develop. When such an episode gets complicated with superadded bacterial infection, aspiration pneumonia may develop causing symptoms like cough, fever, breathlessness, tightness of chest etc.
Chest x-ray findings of aspiration pneumonitis usually develop within 2 hours of aspiration and sometimes resolve quickly. However, the aspiration pneumonia opacities can develop days later and can take weeks to resolve.
So in your case, it’s possible to develop pneumonia though the Xray taken soon after the incident was normal.
It is advisable that you consult your physician for a physical examination along with a repeat X XXXXXXX and blood counts for the confirmation of diagnosis.
If pneumonia is diagnosed, it can be treated with antibiotics and supportive treatment like bronchodilators and expectorants.
Hope I have answered your query.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Chest tightness, dry cough and fatigue after aspiring food. X-ray normal. Infection chances? 8 hours later
I am going into the doctor this morning. Can they tell if you have puemonia without an xray? or bronchitis? My inhaler helps. But my pulse is quicker today, and I am exhausted.
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 10 hours later
Thanks for the follow up.
Yes, pneumonia can also be diagnosed on a clinical examination as well as on Xrays. In most of the cases, the diagnosis is made clinically but in the case of early pneumonia, findings may be ambiguous and hence confirmation on Xray may be needed.
Pneumonia and bronchitis can be distinguished clinically as well as based on Xray findings.
Though your inhaler provides relief, it may be temporary due to better air entry as a result of broncodilation( the bronchi or air passages widen). A fast pulse may be a side effect of bronchodilator inhaler medicines or one of the signs of pneumonia.
Hence, a clear diagnosis can only be made only after examination.
Hope that answers your query.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Chest tightness, dry cough and fatigue after aspiring food. X-ray normal. Infection chances? 29 minutes later
I had the x XXXXXXX it was clear, so they thought it is bronchitis, and put me on an anbiotics just ot be safe, because I am immune compromised. Thanks for you help!
Answered by Dr. Hema Yadav 3 hours later

It was my pleasure to be of any help to you.

I am happy that it didn’t turn out to be pneumonia.

It is appropriate that you take a course of antibiotics to prevent any chances of further infection.

I wish you a speedy recovery.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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