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Dr. Andrew Rynne
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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Suggest remedies for persistent shortness of breath and cough

Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3129 Questions

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Posted on Tue, 7 Jun 2016 in Lung and Chest disorders
Question: I am a 68 yr old female....April 2 I went to a walk in clinic for shortness of breath and a cough that would not stop. I had a chest xray the PA said she was going to treat me for pneumonia. She prescribed Flovent HFA 44 mcg two puffs twice a day....Cefdinir 300 mg twice a day...Musinex 1200 mg twice a day Bernzonatate 100 Mg 1 to 2 capsules by mouth 3 times a day for cough....On Tuesday April 5 I was no better and went to my regular doctor they kept me on the same meds plus added Dexamethasone 2 mg twice a day and albuterol sulfate inhaler ....not feeling better called the doctor today now they want me to stay on all meds plus a ZPak.....my lungs hurt and my back hurts.....I am terrified it is lung cancer....copd........I am confused on what to do now....the xray showed no pneumonia
I failed to mention the xray showed no pneumonia....do I need a cat scan?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 20 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Some information:

Detailed Answer:
Hello XXXXXXX

I am sorry you are feeling so poorly.

So on reading your history I am trying to sort this out. I have noted that the chest X-ray was clear - no pneumonia. But that doesn't mean that you don't have a bronchitis, which does not show up on a chest X-ray. Also, if it is a viral bronchitis, an antibiotic will not help.

There are other things that can cause shortness of breath and a cough other than pneumonia, COPD, and lung cancer.

Now I see that the PA advised Mucinex. This makes me think that you are having some nasal or sinus congestion. Is that the case? Because if you also have upper respiratory symptoms in your nose/throat, COPD, then there is evidence for an infection rather than COPD or lung cancer.

If the pain in your back and with breathing is increasing, then you should go back in. Especially if you have fast breathing, fast heart rate, or are light headed. This can indicate a clot in the lungs. A chest CT can show this. But I doubt that this is the problem if there was also congestion (i.e. what I wrote about the Mucinex above).

If the symptoms are not getting overall worse, you may need to just weather it out.

I hope this information helps. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 3 minutes later
I do not know why the Musinx was prescribed I have no nasal congestion....a low grade temperature and extremely tired .... my oxygen level runs from 87 to 93
doctor
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 14 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Thoughts:

Detailed Answer:
I think if your symptoms of shortness of breath are not showing any improvement and there is no runny, or stuffy nose or sensation of throat post nasal drainage and your oxygen saturations go as low as 87, it would be a good idea to go to the ER. There they can do a blood test called a D-dimer (helps for seeing if there is a clot), and a CT can see if there is a clot or if there is pleurisy (which can give shortness of breath and pain in the chest wall or back).

So while I don't think this is COPD (this does no come on suddenly) or cancer (usually you can see some abnormality of signs of cancer on a chest X-ray), it would be a good idea to go in to get this checked. Again, it may be a bad viral bronchitis, but usually there are some upper respiratory symptoms that would go with that.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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