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When cough can be dangerous: Important things to know

When cough can be dangerous: Important things to know Cough can sometimes indicate a serious illness (Photo: Freepik)

Coughing is always unpleasant, but if it persists for an extended period, it can be a cause for concern. Important signs should be recognized, according to Berezhy sebe medical community.

What is a cough?

It's crucial to understand that a cough is a symptom, not a disease. It serves as a mechanism to rid our bodies of substances that shouldn't be present.

People cough to expel mucus-containing pathogens, eliminate dust, foreign objects, and more. However, there are instances when a cough lingers.

In many cases, a prolonged cough doesn't necessarily indicate a severe illness. It often persists after recovering from a viral infection and may last for 3-8 weeks, typically resolving on its own without treatment.

When to be concerned

If you've been coughing for more than 8 weeks, and there's no improvement, it's a definite reason to consult a doctor.

Pay attention to accompanying symptoms that may indicate a potentially dangerous condition:

  • Fever

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Wheezing

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Severe fatigue

  • Night sweats

According to pulmonologist Marina Korchinska, a prolonged cough is often caused by postnasal drip syndrome or gastroesophageal reflux. This occurs when stomach contents enter the esophagus, throat, or respiratory tract.

She emphasizes the importance of not self-prescribing medications and advises against self-diagnosis through methods like computed tomography scans, encouraging consultation with a specialist before undergoing radiation exposure and spending money on unnecessary tests.

Psychogenic cough

Psychogenic cough, related to mental health, can particularly affect children. Though it may sound loud, it mysteriously disappears when the child is asleep or distracted. Treatment may involve the assistance of a psychotherapist.

Tuberculosis Concerns

While prolonged coughing can be a sign of tuberculosis, it's crucial to note that coughing is not a typical symptom of this condition. When tuberculosis affects the throat, trachea, or bronchi, the cough can become persistent and resistant to cough medications, prompting patients to seek help quickly.

In conclusion, a prolonged cough can have various causes, from postnasal drip to psychological factors. Recognizing concerning symptoms and consulting a healthcare professional is essential for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Earlier, we shared tips on how to ease nighttime coughing.