What do the characteristics of the sputum suggest in bacterial pneumonia?

Updated: Sep 30, 2020
  • Author: Justina Gamache, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

The presence of cough, particularly cough productive of sputum, is the most consistent presenting symptom. Although not diagnostic of a particular causative agent, the character of the sputum may suggest a particular pathogen, as follows:

  • S pneumoniae is classically associated with a cough productive of rust-colored sputum.

  • Pseudomonas, Haemophilus, and pneumococcal species may produce green sputum.

  • Klebsiella species pneumonia is classically associated with a cough productive of red currant-jelly sputum.

  • Anaerobic infections often produce foul-smelling or bad-tasting sputum.


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