Just a cold or pneumonia?

by Nurse Rose Melendez | WGTS 91.9 FM

It’s that time of year when people are coughing and blowing their nose – cold and flu season. We all know those people who try to tough out a cold, but sometimes a cold can turn into a more serious respiratory illness like pneumonia. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, tells us how we can tell if your cough is turning into something more serious.

What is pneumonia?

Nurse Rose: Pneumonia is a lung infection that happens when the air sacs in the lungs fill up with fluid or puss, making it hard to breath in enough air. It can be caused by either a virus or bacteria.

Who is most at-risk of developing pneumonia?

Nurse Rose: Anyone can get pneumonia but those with weak or compromised immune systems are most at-risk, including:

  • The elderly
  • Young children
  • People who have a cold or the flu
  • Those with immune disorders
  • Smokers

How can you tell the difference between a common cold and something more serious?

Nurse Rose: A cold can be a real nuisance but usually symptoms are mild and begin to clear up in 3-5 days with proper rest and fluids. You might experience:

  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Cough

Signs you may have pneumonia or another serious respiratory infection, like bronchitis.

  • Symptoms do not clear up within 10 days and get worse
  • Fever of 102 or higher
  • Chills and sweats
  • Severe coughing and stuffy nose
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Chest pain that worsens when you take a deep breath or cough
  • Coughing up pus or blood

If you have these symptoms see your doctor immediately. If you or a loved one is having difficulty breathing, call 911.

How can we avoid getting sick this winter?

Nurse Rose: Try these tips to stay health this cold and flu season:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Carry hand sanitizer on-the-go
  • Get your flu vaccine and vaccinate children 6 months and older
  • Do not smoke
  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep per night
Rose Melendez, RN

Rose Melendez, RN

Head of Emergency Department

Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.

Need your flu shot? Visit Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care. Walk-ins and online appointments available today.