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Health > pneumonia >self care

When to seek medical advice

If you think you may have pneumonia, don't hesitate to get medical care. Serious pneumonia can be life-threatening. See your doctor right away if you have a persistent cough, shortness of breath, chest pain that fluctuates with your breathing (pleurisy), an unexplained fever — especially a fever of 102 F or higher for two or more days along with chills and sweats — or if you suddenly feel worse after a cold or the flu.

Be especially prompt about seeking medical care if you're an older adult, or you're affected by alcoholism, injury, chemotherapy or the use of drugs such as prednisone that suppress the immune system. For some older adults and people with heart failure or lung ailments, pneumonia can prove fatal in as little as 24 hours.

If you've received a diagnosis of pneumonia, your doctor will most likely schedule a follow-up visit four to six weeks after your initial diagnosis and treatment. By that time your infection should have cleared, but it's important for your doctor to see you, even if you're feeling better. If you're not feeling better, the follow-up visit is an opportunity for your doctor to schedule tests to determine more specifically what's causing your symptoms.

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