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       Updated Monday December 2nd, 2002  
 

When is a Cough Chronic?

How many bottles of cough medicine did you buy last winter? Do you usually carry a package of cough drops?

A cough may seem like such a common thing - you just dose it and ignore it. Don't do that. Your cough, if it is a chronic one, may be serious

When a Cough is Chronic?

Has your cough been hanging around for a month or more? Then you have a chronic cough. It doesn't matter that you cough only in the morning when you get up, or only at night when you lie down. If you've been coughing for more than a month, your cough is chronic.

Maybe you cough only during winter and feel fine the rest of the year. That cough is a chronic cough.

What About Short-term Coughs?

Just about everybody coughs from time to time. The common cold, for instance, is often followed by a cough that can last as long as two or three weeks. But if your cough following a cold hangs on longer than usual, it may be developing into a chronic cough.

If there is shortness of breath with a cough, or any pain, or blood in what you cough up, you should see your doctor immediately, even though your cough may not have lasted more than a few days.

What About Smoking?

Do you smoke a pack or more of cigarettes a day? If you do, you're considered a heavy smoker. Heavy cigarette smoking can cause a chronic cough.

Don't dismiss a cough that hangs on as "just a cigarette cough". That cigarette cough of yours is serious in itself. It means that your excessive smoking has already damaged your breathing passages. In fact, the smoker who coughs is the person most likely to get emphysema, or lung cancer.

You may be so used to your cigarette cough that you can't tell when something new has been added. Are you coughing more than you used to? For longer at a time? Or has your cough changed its character? Maybe you're coughing up streaks of blood or more phlegm (mucus). Any of these happenings may be a sign that something is wrong.

Chronic Cough is a Symptom

A chronic cough is not a disease in itself. It is a sign of something wrong with the breathing system. That's why it isn't smart to take cough medicine for more than a week or two unless your doctor tells you to. Medicine may help with the cough, but meanwhile the underlying illness can be getting steadily worse.

The most likely causes of chronic cough are: lung cancer...bronchitis (inflammation in the lung tubes)...bronchiectasis (in which pus pockets form along the tubes)...tuberculosis...other lung diseases.

Why Go to the Doctor?

The instant you realize you have a chronic cough, go to your doctor. The doctor can make a number of tests to find out if a lung disease is causing your cough. Then he or she can start treatment early in the game. That is when most lung diseases can be dealt with successfully. If you're coughing too much, find out why. It may be something minor or it may be serious. Until you know for sure, it's nothing to fool around with or neglect. Be sure - or you may be sorry!


Reference Source 101

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