Wet Cough Diagnosis

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A cough is only a symptom, not a disease, and often the importance of your cough can be determined only when other symptoms are evaluated. Coughs have distinctive traits you can learn to recognize. There are two kinds of wet coughs, productive and non-pro

A cough is only a symptom, not a disease, and often the importance of your cough can be determined only when other symptoms are evaluated. Coughs have distinctive traits you can learn to recognize.

Cough: productive or 'wet' cough

A productive or ‘wet’ cough is when you have a ‘rattly’ or ‘tight’ chest. You may feel congested and breathless, with the cough bringing up mucus or phlegm. Symptoms are worse when waking and when talking. The wet cough may be the last symptom left after a sore throat or nasal and sinus congestion.

There are two kinds of wet coughs, productive and non-productive wet cough. According to the symptoms a health professional decide further test or go for treatment procedure.

If it is a wet, productive cough, then

  1. It could be pneumonia.
  2. Possibly bronchitis.
  3. It may be the flu.

If it is a wet, non-productive cough, then

  1. Possibly bronchitis.
  2. It may be the flu.
  3. It could be a cold.

According to WebMD :

Productive coughs: A productive cough produces phlegm or mucus (sputum). The mucus may have drained down the back of the throat from the nose or sinuses (postnasal drainage) or may have come up from the lungs. A productive cough generally should not be suppressed; it clears mucus from the lungs. There are many causes of a productive cough, such as:

  • Viral illnesses. It is normal to have a productive cough when you have a common cold. Coughing is often triggered by mucus that drains down the back of the throat.
  • Infections. An infection of the lungs or upper airway passages can cause a cough. A productive cough may be a symptom of pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, or tuberculosis.
  • Chronic lung disease. A productive cough could be a sign that a disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is getting worse or that you have an infection.
  • Stomach acid backing up into the esophagus . This type of coughing may be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and may awaken you from sleep.
  • Nasal discharge draining down the back of the throat (postnasal drip syndrome). This can cause a productive cough or the feeling that you constantly need to clear your throat. Experts disagree about whether a postnasal drip or the viral illness that caused it is responsible for the cough.
  • Smoking or other tobacco use. Productive coughs in a person who smokes or uses other forms of tobacco is often a sign of lung damage or irritation of the throat or esophagus.

Some coughs are dry, while others are “productive.” A productive cough is one that brings up phlegm (also called sputum or mucus). Coughs can be either acute or chronic.

Questions which help diagnose the problem:

Is cough acute or chronic?

Acute onset of a cough would suggest an acute URI, viral pneumonia, or bronchopneumonia. A chronic cough is more suggestive of pneumoconiosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, tuberculosis, carcinoma of the lung, or bronchial asthma.

Read more at http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/symptoms/wet_cough/book-causes-1a.htm?ktrack=kcplink

Is there significant sputum production?

If so, what is the nature of the sputum? Purulent sputum would suggest a pneumonia, abscess, tuberculosis, or bronchiectasis; bloody sputum would suggest carcinoma of the lung, tuberculosis, and bronchiectasis; mucoid sputum would suggest asthma. If the sputum is foamy, one would consider congestive heart failure, mitral stenosis, and inhalation of poison gas.

Is there fever?

If there is fever associated with the cough, obviously one would suspect an infectious process to be present. This could be viral or bacterial. Most likely the patient has bronchopneumonia, but the possibility of an abscess or pulmonary infarct would still have to be entertained.

When should you seek medical advice about a productive cough?

You should seek medical advice if:

  • you cough up blood (fresh blood or dried blood like coffee granules);
  • you have a high temperature;
  • you are short of breath or wheezy;
  • the cough is mainly at night;
  • you have chest pain when coughing;
  • the cough has changed;
  • you are a cigarette smoker;
  • you have other symptoms such as an ongoing headache, sore ears or a rash;
  • you have recently lost weight;
  • the productive, wet cough has lasted longer than 5 days;
  • the cough affects an infant or child under 5 years old; or
  • you have high blood pressure, a heart complaint, respiratory illness (such as asthma), gastric problems, glaucoma, or are taking other medicines.

(Adapted from original material source from MediMedia Australia.)

Related: www.wrongdiagnosis.com

Useful links:

* Cough - Nonproductive, and diagnosis

* Cough - Productive and diagnosis

* Chronic wet cough: Protracted bronchitis, chronic suppurative lung disease and bronchiectasis.