What Color is it?

Here we are in the midst of an almost summer heat wave. I had been enjoying all the benefits of sunshine, blue skies, evening bike rides and my newly discovered dairy free peanut butter ice cream bars. They are delicious, come in a handy snack portion (and gluttony control sizes).

When someone around you is sick

My mom had been visiting for a few days and she mentioned that she felt that she had a sore throat and hoped she was not coming done with a dreaded cold. Of course, my initial reaction was “stay away from me!” I did not want to catch, whatever she thought she might have. She is susceptible to feeling chilly and thought perhaps her air conditioning was up too high and she was getting a little chilly at night or that it was an allergy. We have had several days of extremely high pollen counts in these parts. I didn’t think any more of it and went on my merry way.

Signs of an infection

A day or two later, I woke up with that dreaded sore throat. I chalked it up to allergy issues, I had accidentally come into contact with an allergen in a meal the night before and subsequently had been excessively coughing. It is the worst, the raw throat, the sore intercostal muscles from the constant coughing. I had tried a few home remedies but they were not working. I began to notice that my sputum color had changed, it was no longer clear or colored white but with a yellow tinge to yellow chunks. What I have learned is that color alone can not predict bacterial infection. It, however, can be suggestive of more diagnostics that are needed.1 Many patients and doctors may interpret that discolored sputum may be indicative that a bacterial infection is present.2 I have learned that the purulent sputum occurs when inflammatory cells are present. This means that it could be either from a viral or bacterial infection and further investigation is warranted.3 It is thought that color alone should not be used independently to determine bacterial infections4

I put a call into my doctor’s office indicating what my symptoms were and my description of the color. Of course, color alone and certainly not an over the phone was not enough. A sample was requested for both cell counts and cultures. It turned out that I did indeed have an infection, so a round of antibiotics was prescribed. It is important that symptoms are properly investigated.

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