What is it?
Coughing is a protective mechanism to keep the respiratory passage clear for breathing.
Symptoms: Dry cough, producing no phlegm, wet cough, producing phlegm. Wheezy cough associated flu and fever symptoms.
Dry cough or cough bringing up white mucus: colds, flu, sinusitis, laryngitis, smoking and allergy.
Wet cough and breathlessness: Bronchitis, Pneumonia
Wheezy cough: Asthma
Severe cough for several weeks or months: Chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, lung cancer.
Treatment in the home: A non productive or dry cough can be treated with a cough suppressant. In a wet cough, a bronchodilator or expectorant is helpful in eliminating congestive mucus. Bronchodilators generally relieve an asthmatic cough. A cough caused by a post-nasal drip (from mucus production in the nose) can be treated with a decongestant.
Possible complications: Depending on the cause: Fatigue, Cardio-pulmonary involvement, Hospitalisation.
When to consult a doctor: If the mucus coughed up is thick and green or yellow, If the mucus contains blood. If the cough is accompanied by a high temperature, if breathlessness is present. If the cough continues for more than 10 days.
What the doctor may do: Examine your ears, nose and chest to determine the cause of the cough. A chest X-ray may be taken in some instances. Prescribe some antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection. Prescribe a decongestant, mucolytic, expectorant or bronchodilator.