Productive cough: causes, symptoms, and medication
Coughing is the body’s way of protecting the lungs. Sometimes when we cough, there is a thick or slippery substance, known as mucus or phlegm, that comes out. When this happens, doctors categorize the cough as “wet” or productive cough.
What is productive cough?
Productive cough is used to refer to coughing that is accompanied by phlegm (or in extreme cases, phlegm mixed with blood) that is expelled from the airways.
Productive cough is usually experienced by those suffering from the flu, common cold, sinusitis, or lung infections. Whenever the airways produce mucus or phlegm, it goes down into the lungs, blocking the airways and making it difficult to breathe. The body’s natural reaction is to cough in order to expel the phlegm and make it easier to breathe again.
What causes productive cough?
There are many possible causes of productive cough. Some of which are:
- Virus like the flu or common cold
- Repeated use of tobacco products such as cigarettes
- Chronic lung diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that continuously worsens
- Stomach acid that rises to the esophagus
What are the symptoms of productive cough?
Productive cough, also known as wet cough, is different from dry cough due to the presence of phlegm in the airways. Apart from having phlegm, other symptoms that you may experience if you have productive cough are:
- Shortness of breath
- Bubbling, popping, or rattling sounds which are called “crackles”
- Continuous low sounds that sound like snoring which are called “rhonchi”
- Pink-tinted phlegm
What is the treatment for productive cough?
Because a productive cough can be caused by a number of things, its treatment also varies. What’s important is for the patient to expel or remove the phlegm, as keeping it in can cause the sickness to worsen or develop into an infection.
The best solution for a wet or productive cough is to take drugs that can help expel the phlegm.
What are the drugs for productive cough?
The right medicine or drugs one should use to cure productive cough depends on what is causing the productive cough to occur. The following can be used with the approval of your doctor:
- Expectorants and mucolytics that melt the phlegm and make it easier to cough out
- Antibiotics that target infections