In case of persistent cough (with or without phlegm) lasting more than 3 weeks, the best thing to do is to seek a doctor, preferably pulmonologist, because the cough can be a symptom of several diseases, some of them quite serious.
Among the main causes of persistent cough are:
- Rhinitis, rhinosinusitis;
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease;
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease);
- Bronchiectasis (permanent enlargement and distortion of the bronchi, usually caused by some infectious process);
- Cardiac insufficiency;
- Lung, larynx or esophagus cancer;
- Use of medications, such as angiotensin converting enzyme (captopril) inhibitors;
- Hyperactivity after a recent respiratory infection.
In the case of tuberculosis, besides the patient may be incubating the disease, it is also spreading tuberculosis and contaminating many people.
Smokers should consider the possibility of lung cancer.
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It is important to remember that coughing is an important defense mechanism of the respiratory system, responsible for the removal of excess secretion, foreign bodies and infectious organisms of the airways.
Coughing can be benign and self-limited, but it can also be a symptom of a wide range of lung diseases and extra-pulmonary.
Remedies and home treatments cough may even help to manage seizures a bit, but they do not address the cause of the problem.
Self-medication with antitussives is highly contraindicated, because the person may be masking a much larger problem, which can even be fatal.
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Therefore, in case of persistent cough lasting longer than 3 weeks, consult a family doctor, general practitioner or go directly to a pulmonologist.