What are the causes of chronic cough?
Upper airway cough syndrome (UACS) – previously known as Post-nasal drip
GORD (Gastro-Oesphogeal Reflux Disease)
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
ACE Inhibitors (anti-hypertensive medication)
Interstitial Lung Disease
When to see a doctor
Severe, ongoing loss of weight – TB and lung cancer may present with cough and marked loss of weight. A doctor should definitely investigate this sign.
Cough up blood (Haemoptysis) – haemoptysis should always be investigated with at least a chest XR. Causes include lung cancer, TB and other infections
Drenching night sweats with fevers – one of the hallmarks of TB is drenching night sweats requiring you to change your bedclothes and sheets. These night sweats and fever are due to the hormones (cytokines) produced by your body in response to the TB infection
Worsening Shortness of Breath (Dyspnoea) – any form of shortness of breath should be assesses by a doctor particularly if it is getting progressively worse. This may only manifest during exercise, as you are not able to perform the activities that you could normally.
Chest Pain – a doctor should assess any form of chest pain. Causes include a wide range of diagnoses including angina, pulmonary emboli (clots in he lungs), acid reflux (GORD) to pneumonia thus professional assessment is a must!
Compiled February 2011 by Dr. Greg Symons [MB. ChB, DipPEC, FCP (SA), Cert. Pulm. (SA)], Consultant Pulmonologist, Division of Pulmonology, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital & Clinical Researcher, UCT Lung Institute (Pty) Ltd www.lunginstitute.co.za in George Street, Mowbray. Contact the UCT Lung Institute on ph 021 406 6850.