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Is it possible to have "clear lungs" there is audible wheezing?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 5171 Questions
1/2/2014 My father (Roy Hall) lives in Grass Valley, CA. and has just flown back home from Seattle (where he has been visiting me). My first question is about pneumonia: 1. At home he'd gone to a clinic and was given a Z-pak and a limited number of Prednisone 50 Mg. for his respiratory distress (which reportedly was described as 'might' develop into pneumonia). 2. While here, he presented with lots of hard coughing (unproductive), was more fatigued than usual, and was falling-asleep all day long. At one point he struggled significantly to get up the stairs to his bedroom. 3. I took him to another walk-in clinic here and he was told his "lungs were clear" and was given an Inhaler (albuterol) along with 3 more days of Prednisoe 50 mg. QUESTION 1: Is it actually possible to have "clear lungs" when he has audible wheezing (and possibly rales) ? QUESTION 2:
Posted Wed, 22 Jan 2014 in Lung and Chest disorders
Answered by Dr. Chobufo Ditah 1 hour later
Brief Answer: Unlikely... Detailed Answer: Hi and thank you so much for this query. I am so sorry to hear about what your father has been experiencing. For sure I cannot tell exactly what the problem is but audible wheezing points to respiratory obstruction/congestion of which the most common cause is asthma. If he has not had this before, then cardiac causes need to be investigated. Lungs cannot be clear with audible wheezes. Stethoscopes simply amplify the sound and it would not be logical that a sound which is audible enough to the ears would be absent to be reported as clear. The difficulties to get upstairs associated with a cough could be suggestive of a failing heart. However, you would need to get hi fully evaluated and treated for what the cause is. I have not gotten any information suggesting that he has an infection that could have justified antibiotics. Please, is he able to lie down flat without need of pillows or raising the head of the bed? Do you think the cough could be worse in a flat position than an upright position? I hope you find the above helpful. I wish your dad well. He need to get well evaluated for I strongly think his problem has not been completely diagnosed and managed yet. Feel free to ask for more information if need be. Thanks. Dr. Ditah, MD.
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