Cough Causes and Diagnosis

Today’s post is about coughing. Let’s get to the bottom of it. Some doctors treat it with

Cough Causes
Respiratory diseases (acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, pneumonia, lung abscess, tuberculosis, compression of the trachea and bronchi by enlarged lymph nodes);
Diseases of the cardiovascular system (chronic heart failure, pulmonary embolism, pericarditis, heart defects);
Diseases of the ENT-organs (rhinosinusitis, pharyngitis, laryngeal tumors, reflex cough in diseases of the external and middle ear);
Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (gastroesophageal reflex disease, hernia of the esophageal orifice of the diaphragm);
Side effects of medications (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (blood pressure lowering drugs), aerosols, oxygen);
Neurotic cough;
Cough associated with smoking (smoker’s bronchitis);
Allergic diseases (rhinitis, bronchial asthma);
Cough associated with toxic substances in people working at harmful industries.
The nature of the cough is classified as follows
Non-productive, or dry;
Productive (that is, with release of sputum).
Productive cough is observed in diseases associated with inflammatory/infectious lesions of the respiratory tract.

It is important to distinguish false productive cough, which can be observed with “postnasal congestion” in patients with ENT-organ diseases (sinusitis, rhinitis).

By intensity
Violent cough.
By duration of coughing act
Episodic short-term or seizure-like;
Continuous cough.
Types of cough by duration:
Acute cough (short-term, lasting less than 3 weeks) – usually caused by acute viral infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract;
Subacute (“post-infection”, most often caused by bronchial hyperresponsiveness due to a viral infection);
Chronic ( long, more than 8 weeks) can be observed in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectatic disease, neoplasms in the airways and lungs, lung abscess;
Dry, prolonged cough is often seen in patients with chronic diseases of the ENT organs (sinusitis, rhinitis), gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Seeking advice from your doctor, try to tell about your problem as much as possible, it will give the opportunity to more correctly prescribe examination and treatment.


1. Grievance collection

The first important point in this question is to gather your complaints.

Help your doctor and talk about them as much as possible:

Characterization of the cough by its duration;
dry or productive;
triggering factors (allergens, taking medications, physical exertion);
What time of day does it occur?
Whether there is any improvement from taking medications.

2. Blood count + C-reactive protein

Important indicators of inflammation.

Sputum analysis – quantity, color:

Increased volume of normally discharged sputum by a patient suffering from chronic bronchitis/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a criterion for exacerbation, and increasing its purulence (sputum acquires greenish tint/color) is one of the indications for prescription of antibacterial therapy (but not the main one);
Patients with pulmonary edema due to acute left ventricular failure are characterized by the separation of large amounts of frothy pink sputum;
Viscous, difficult to separate, so-called vitreous sputum is observed in bronchial asthma;
In lumpy pneumonia there is “rusty” sputum;
Sputum in the form of “currant” or “raspberry” jelly is characteristic of pneumonia caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae;
Sputum is stained yellow by eosinophils (bronchial asthma, eosinophilic processes in the lungs);
Bleeding – among the main causes of hemoptysis are pulmonary embolism, neoplasms, autoimmune diseases (Goodpasture syndrome, Wegener’s granulomatosis).

4. Collection of anamnesis (life history, diseases)

Fact of smoking with determination of duration;
Family history of bronchial asthma, tuberculosis;
Relation to taking medications;
Occupational, harmful factors.

5. Lung auscultation (listening)

Presence of dry coherent ralescence indicates lesions of the lower airways – acute bronchitis, exacerbation of chronic, bronchial asthma;
Identification of an area of moist small bubbling rales is a typical sign of pneumonia;
Multiple moist rales are observed in pulmonary edema;
Inspiratory crepitation (“cellophane crackle” when listening) characteristic of interstitial lung diseases.