Many of us cough periodically throughout the day and don’t think anything of it. But, a cough can be more serious than you think. An article on caring.com shares six important questions to ask yourself or a loved one, to figure out if there may be more to your cough than meets the eye:
1. How long has the cough been going on? A cough may occur for various reasons – a blocked airway, the common cold, or more a serious underlying disease – and it may last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. If a cough lasts over eight weeks, it is considered “chronic” and should be treated. Most of the time, when the problem is treated, it will go away.
2. When does the cough occur? Seasonal allergies can cause coughing at certain times during the year. Nerves can cause habitual coughing before you speak and even sometimes, the body will cough involuntarily, which can be a sign of an underlying disease. Taking certain medications can also cause coughing, but will usually go away once the body adjusts to the medication.
3. Is the cough productive – meaning, do you produce anything when you cough? Cough production can range from absolutely nothing to greenish phlegm to bloody mucus. Usually, the more colorful the result, the more serious the cough. Consult your doctor if you see greenish phlegm. It can be an indication of a bacterial disease. Blood-streaked mucus can also indicate pneumonia, tuberculosis, or other serious diseases.
4. What does the cough sound like? A wheezy cough can be a sign of asthma and a loud, barking cough occur in smokers. And a “whooping” sound can indicate a very severe and persistent cough called the “whooping cough.” Adults over the age of 65 and small children are more susceptible to this kind of cough and are advised to get boosters in order to protect them from the disease.
5. Do you experience other symptoms along with the cough? Symptoms to look out for include, but are not limited to, fever, shortness of breath, chest pain and heartburn. These can be signs of another underlying disease that may require additional treatment.
6. Now what? If a cough is persistent, or if you feel that the symptoms are abnormal, always check with a physician. They will be able to determine if your cough is more than just a cough.