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1.3: Cough

Table of Contents

Cough is a common reflex action that clears the throat of mucus, allergens, dusts or other foreign irritants. A cough can be caused by several conditions both temporary and permanent. Frequently coughing usually indicates the presence of disease.


Diagnostic Criteria:

  • If cough is dry without sputum and fever, it is probable an allergic condition or mild upper respiratory illness (e.g. allergic rhinitis or allergic bronchitis)
  • If cough is dry without sputum or fever and is associated with other congestive symptoms it may be due to Congestive Cardiac Failure (CCF)
  • If it is a repeated attack cough with wheezing but without fever, it is likely to be bronchitis asthma
  • If it is a cough with fever, rapid breathing and chest in-drawing, it is likely pneumonia
  • If it is cough with sputum which is yellowish pus like and there is fever, it is likely acute bronchitis or pneumonia
  • If it is cough with blood in sputum and/or irregular fever with loss of weight and appetite it is a suspected tuberculosis
  • If it is cough with large quantity of sputum, very foul smelling it is likely lung abscess or bronchiectasis


Pharmacological Treatment

Causative/precipitating factors e.g. CCF, asthma; allergies must be established and treated accordingly.

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