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When a Cough Becomes a Concern

It’s not always easy to know when to manage a cough on your own and when it’s time to seek medical attention. Coughing every now and then is a normal part of life. But a persistent cough that just won’t quit could be a sign that something more serious is going on. 

At The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute our board-certified pulmonary care providers Ashkan Naraghi, MD, and Dan Naim, MD, have the experience and expertise needed to diagnose the underlying cause of your problematic cough so you can get the treatment you need. 

Here’s a closer look at when you should be concerned about a cough and the different ways we can help.    

When does a cough need medical attention? 

Any time you have a cough that doesn’t start to improve after two weeks, you should seek medical attention as you might need an antibiotic or other medication to address an underlying infection. 

A chronic cough is a dry or productive cough that lasts for at least eight weeks. Chronic coughs may trigger additional symptoms in addition to the annoyance of a cough, including things like sleep issues, sore muscles, and urinary incontinence, all of which can detract from your quality of life. 

Since chronic coughs are never normal, be sure to schedule an appointment with a lung specialist if you’re experiencing a cough that lasts eight weeks or longer. Many people worry that an ongoing cough is a sign of lung cancer, and it can be. 

However, lung cancer isn’t the most common cause of chronic coughs. A persistent cough can have many triggers. Some of the most common include:

There are other possible causes as well. Here at The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute, we can evaluate your medical history, discuss your symptoms in detail, and conduct a physical exam. With this information in hand, we may then recommend additional diagnostic testing or treatments for your cough.

What kind of testing explains chronic coughs?

When it comes to chronic coughs, we often use chest X-rays as one of the first lines of investigation. This is because an X-ray gives us an inside look at the health of your lungs.

Chest X-rays use low-level radiation to generate images of your internal structures and organs. The thickness of these body parts determines how much radiation passes through, creating a variation of color, from white to black, which reveals key information about your health, including: 

Chest X-rays don’t cause any pain or discomfort, and they’re a safe and easy test, making them a great starting place for diagnosing a persistent cough. We may also recommend other screenings or tests to evaluate your lung health, such as a mucous analysis.   

How are coughs treated?

The right treatment for your cough depends on the underlying cause. For example, a persistent cough triggered by seasonal allergies may benefit from the daily use of allergy medication and lifestyle changes to avoid triggers. 

We gather information about your medical history, lifestyle, preferences, and results of your exam and any diagnostic tests to make a personalized cough treatment plan for your needs, which may include:

If you’re experiencing an ongoing cough, don’t wait to see treatment. Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at The Beverly Hills Lung and Sleep Institute today.

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