Updated 23 July 2018

Chronic cough: when to call a doctor

Take note of the signs that warrant a doctor's visit.

Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • A cough lasts two weeks or longer.
  • You experience weight loss.
  • The cough is accompanied by a fever.
  • You cough up phleghm that’s yellow or green.
  • You cough up blood (your phleghm may be pink).
  • You experience shortness of breath.
  • You find it difficult to swallow.

Reviewed by Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit, Head of the Lung Clinical Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. MBChB, MRCP(UK), Dip HIV(Man), MMED, FCP(SA), Cert Pulm(SA), PhD. February 2018.


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Professor Keertan Dheda has received several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others. Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute.

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