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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Rattle in chest after flu-like illness

 ericm7802 - Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:31 pm

Hello Dr.,

I am just getting over what I believe is the flu. It has been 5 days since symptoms (fever of 103, extreme tiredness, cough with moderate flem) began. I feel almost 100% now other than an occasional cough and a rattle in my chest when breathing. I am concerned about the rattle. I had asthma when I was a child. When I cough, I get a very small amount of flem that is off-white in color. I have been taking Mucinex to try to loosen and release whatever is rattling. The rattle remains unchanged for a few days now. Is this pneumonia? Bronchitis? Some sort of infection? Or something else? Do I need antibiotics for whatever this is? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:38 am

User avatar Hello -- What you describe sounds like very typical residual bronchial sputum (phlegm) of the sort left behind after an acute respiratory infection. You may well have had flu of one strain or another, and H1N1 does seem to affect people with a history of asthma more than others, but most flu strains do anyway. You seem to be recovering nicely. I'd suggest use of an expectorant like guaifenesin (brand name of a long-acting type is Mucinex). This will loosen the remaining sputum by liquifying it, making it easier to cough it up. From the sound of things this is probably all you need. The rattle is due to loosening bronchial secretions. Off-white is a desireable color for this stuff, by the way. Brownish, bright yellow or greenish would suggest an ongoing infection. It doesn't sound like pneumonia, either, which usually will produce some deep, low chest aching and additional fever.

Hope this helps. Good luck to you. Please follow up with us here as needed

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