Productive Cough: Know The Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors And Treatment From A Pulmonologist

Productive or wet cough is coughing with phlegm. Check out its symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatment. Read on. 

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaUpdated at: Jan 23, 2021 20:44 IST
Productive Cough: Know The Causes,  Symptoms, Risk Factors And Treatment From A Pulmonologist

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Coughing may come and go, but can also be persistent in a specific season. It indicates an underlying medical condition or illness. It is your body's way to tell you that there is some irritant in your respiratory system. External factors like dust, aur pollution, smoke and other allergens may have a negative impact on your lungs and esophagus, which leads to different types of coughing. The respiratory system sends message to the brain and then the brain signals your chest and abdomen. When these muscles  contract persistently, then there is a burst of air out of your respiratory system. This process helps in pushing out the harmful irritants in your body. Therefore, coughing is also important to make sure these irritants burst out. This can make you such and harder to breathe as well. 

When you are coughing, there might be dry as well as wet cough, also called productive cough. It moves the mucus out of your body and clears your lungs and airway, which further helps you in breathing easily. Coughing can get worse at night because the gets mucus blocked at the back of your throat and when you lie down, it might make you cough a lot. A wet cough, also called productive cough, produces mucus or phlegm, while coughing. It may feel like a blockage in your chest or at the back of your throat. Sometimes, a wet cough might even produce mucus in your mouth. A productive cough tells that your body is producing more mucus than it should.  Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Shivanshu Raj Goyal, Consultant, Respiratory/ Pulmonology & Sleep Medicine, Artemis Hospitals, Gurgaon, about the symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatment for productive or wet cough.

Productive cough causes 


The way you cough can also tell a lot about the underlying cause. Dr. Shivanshu said, "Simple coughing can go up to bronchitis and Tuberculosis or lot of other medical conditions. But, wherever the phlegm forms in the lungs, the most common thing in India is TB and bronchitis. Moreover, pneumonia can also have a productive cough or wet cough." The main causes of productive cough are: 

Productive cough symptoms 

Wet cough itself is a symptom that you know you are having cough and you will also produce phlegm. Phlegm is basically sputum and this wet fluid can simply be white, yellow, green, it can also be blood. So, if it is only white then it is nothing to worry about. It is normally common and is called winter bronchitis, where your gland creates more mucus. If it is yellow, then it means that there is infection and then it could be pneumonia or it could be any other infection. A green phlegm is also a mark of infection but it is a more serious infection. However, when it is blood then very commonly it is either TB or cancer. 

Productive cough risk factors 


In terms of who will have a wet cough, there is no specific risk factor. But, people who are immunocompromised and people who have diabetes, who are smokers or people who have cancer are more prone. But, anybody can have wet cough, you can be a child and you will have a infection in your chest, you can have a wet cough. There's no specific risk factor but people who are immuno compromised are at a higher risk.

Also read: Home Remedies for Cold and Cough during Pregnancy

Productive cough treatment 

It is completely different in every case and cannot be generalized because there are different types of wet cough. So, depending on the type wet cough, you need to ask the patient to get these mucus tested. Dr Shivanshu said, "What the patient is producing has to be tested. For example, there is a yellow sputum send for testing, that test will give feedback whether it is a simple bacterial pneumonia or fungal pneumonia or TB. So, the guideline says if it is any cough which is beyond two weeks of duration can be TB in a country like India. So, the treatment will vary as per the type of an infection. If it is only bronchitis, then it is all about basic anti inflammatory and the medicines to treat  cough. The important point in treatment is that for a wet cough, no one should take up a separation. Separation will suppress the cough and the infection will stay inside. Therefore, wet cough should never ever be suppressed."

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