Can you make the diagnosis?

Rachel is recovering from a bad case of the flu.  She has just returned to class, and is trying to catch up on her homework.

At school she feels like she is dragging, and doesn’t have an appetite.  Her cough is getting worse, and when she coughs into a Kleenex she notices that her mucus looks greenish yellow, and has blood streaks.

As she walks home from school that day, she notices her chest has a sharp pain on the right, and it hurts to breathe.

What does Rachel have?

  1.  Pleurisy
  2. The flu again
  3. Pneumonia
  4. Mono


If you guessed 3.  Pneumonia, you are correct!

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs.  It can be caused by a virus or a bacteria.   It is not uncommon in patients who have just had the flu, which can cause lung inflammation.  Flu patients can then get a bacterial infection in their lungs which can be a serious condition, and typically needs to be treated with antibiotics.

Pleurisy is a good guess.  Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lungs, and can cause pain with breathing.  It often occurs after a virus, but doesn’t usually have a productive cough.  While Rachel’s symptoms started with the flu, she now has a complication from lung irritation, and her condition has progressed to pneumonia.  Mono usually causes fatigue but is also associated with severe sore throat and lymph node swelling of the neck.

Pneumonia on an x-ray:


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