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Q.

Can your lungs be clear with pneumonia?

My mother is 73 years old.  She has a history of COPD, etc.  She was in the hospital from 11/13 to 11/16 with pneumonia.  She was not getting better, in fact, she was declining.  They kept saying her lungs were clear.  She went to the ER last night.  She has been admitted with pneumonia again, much worse than before.  Can your lungs be clear with pneumonia?

 

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Primary Care
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A.

The word "clear" may be referring to two things: One would be listening to the lungs and not hearing any abnormal sounds, like crackling, that would indicate pneumonia. Another would be a clear x-ray; pneumonia not being radiologically proven.  It is nice to have both to prove the diagnosis, but medical provider often treat things provisionally (feeling they are high risk, like your mother, and likely to get pneumonia) or clinically (having all of the signs and symptoms of pneumonia without any confirmation).

Your mother may have been admitted because of her age, her medical history, and the fact that she was getting worse. Pneumonia may just be the admitting diagnosis, but may not end up being her final diagnosis.

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