A cough is itself a symptom of an underlying condition or disease. A cough may be the sign of a serious health problem when:
- blood is being coughed up
- chest pain accompanies the cough
- breathing is difficult or short and shallow
- unintentional weight loss has occurred along with chronic coughing
- a fever accompanies the cough that lasts more than one day
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should call your doctor.
Having one of the many different underlying conditions or diseases that can trigger the cough reflex will raise your risk of developing either an acute or a chronic cough Table 02.
Table 2. Clues to Common Causes of Cough
If... Your cough may be the result of... You are a smoker ?Smokers'? bronchitis Your cough began after an upper respiratory infection or after exposure to an allergen Postnasal drip You have postnasal drip (mucus dripping down the back of the throat, usually due to allergies or sinus infection) Postnasal drip, perhaps caused by asthma You have facial or tooth pain Sinus infection (sinusitis) You have heartburn or a sour taste in your mouth Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) You are taking an ACE inhibitor or beta-blocker for high blood pressure The medication You are wheezing Asthma You are wheezing at night Asthma or congestive heart failure Your cough worsens at work Environmental pollution Your cough is producing rust-colored or greenish phlegm Pneumonia You have been loosing weight unintentionally Lung cancer or tuberculosis
In many cases, a cough has more than a single cause.
- Common Side Effects of AntidepressantsFind out about common and not-so-common side effects of antidepressants and how to manage them.
- How Drugs Can Lower CholesterolDiscover how cholesterol-lowering medications work in your body to bring your cholesterol numbers down to ideal levels.
- Do Over-the-Counter Proton-Pump Inhibitors Work?You might wonder why you need a prescription for GERD if many PPIs are available over the counter. Get the answers to this and other questions about OTC PPIs.