Sometimes when the flu (a respiratory virus) is not treated properly, other diseases can develop. The most commonly developed is pneumonia, an infection that can be either viral or bacterial and attacks one or both lungs. The infection causes inflammation of the lung’s air sacs as it slowly fills up your lungs with harmful fluid, making it increasingly difficult for you to breathe.
Because many pneumonia symptoms are similar to those of a cold or the flu, such as fever, coughs and body weakness, it can become difficult to determine if you have pneumonia. However, one of the first signs of pneumonia is wheezing or shortness of breath which means your lungs have been affected. During flu season it is especially important to seek medical attention if your flu continues to progress because respiratory diseases may become severe or fatal. Physicians will often require results from a chest CT scan in order to analyze the lungs in more detail.
A CT scan, a type of x-ray, utilizes energy to scan the lungs, take multiple pictures and create three-dimensional images. The procedure is completely non-invasive and can be administered at most ACR certified radiology facilities. A radiologist who will be able to detect if there is any excessive fluid in the lungs will evaluate the images produced by the CT scan. Although viral pneumonia is most commonly developed from the flu, complications may arise from other bacteria meaning a doctor will most likely prescribe a vaccine.
Treating pneumonia as early as possible will help you avoid lung abscesses (pockets of pus that form inside the lungs from accumulated bacteria) or in severe cases, complete respiratory failure – an issue that will only be resolved with a machine that aids your breathing.
Value every breath you take and consult with a doctor as soon as you feel that your respiratory system is at risk for pneumonia. Should your physician require a CT scan image, don’t wait for the next available appointment at a busy hospitable – contact your local radiology center so that you may receive quicker results.