A productive cough helps clear mucus (sputum) and foreign material from the airways. Mucus may be made in the lungs because of Reference bronchitis Opens New Window, Reference pneumonia Opens New Window, or Reference chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Opens New Window (COPD).
Colds and allergies may produce mucus that drains down the back of the throat (Reference postnasal drainage Opens New Window). Home treatment may be all that is needed to provide relief if you have a productive cough and postnasal drainage but do not have other symptoms.
A productive cough in a person who smokes is often a sign of lung damage. For smokers, the most effective way to treat a cough is to stop smoking. A change in the cough or in the color or quantity of sputum may mean a bacterial lung infection.
A productive cough is a more serious when:
- It produces sputum from the lungs (not postnasal drainage).
- The sputum is rust-colored or contains bright red blood.
- It lasts longer than 10 days.
- It occurs with
other symptoms. These may include:
- Fever and chills.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
- Night sweats.
- Weight loss.
- You have a known exposure to Reference tuberculosis Opens New Window.
A doctor can evaluate your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference December 21, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference David Messenger, MD