Over 30 million people in the United States go to the doctor for a cough each year. That could be for a persistent cough that does not go away and doesn’t let you sleep. In these situations, you wonder if you should see a doctor to see if you’re missing something or get cough medicine. However, not all coughs necessitate you to see a pulmonary doctor for a cough.
Coughing is a typical side effect of intense diseases like colds and influenza. It can also be due to chronic conditions like sleep apnea and asthma. However, a cough might be associated with more severe conditions like pulmonary embolism, which calls for immediate medical attention.
Even though a cough may not be life-threatening, a chronic cough can indicate other health conditions. Furthermore, coughing can help clear the airways of irritants. A persistent cough can be a source of frustration and exhaustion. Moreover, it interferes with daily functioning and causes lightheadedness, puking, urinary incontinence, and even rib fractures.
In this blog, we will explain the common causes of coughs and how to determine whether you should see a physician or a pulmonary doctor. But first, let us discuss a little about pulmonary doctors and what they do.
Who is a Pulmonary doctor?
A pulmonary doctor is a healthcare professional who specializes in lung and other respiratory conditions. In addition, they diagnose and treat respiratory diseases. These conditions are the result of infections, inflammation, or tissue growth. Most of these diseases require long-term treatment plans. Furthermore, these professionals work with other healthcare professionals like cardiologists and physicians to consult about their patients’ health.
Do Pulmonary doctors treat coughs?
Coughs are one of the most common symptoms that pulmonary doctor encounters in their patients. A cough can be due to various conditions, ranging from minor issues like the common cold to more serious respiratory illnesses like pneumonia or asthma.
When a patient comes with a cough, the first thing a pulmonologist does is try to determine the underlying cause. Furthermore, they will typically start with a thorough physical exam, asking questions about your medical history and any other symptoms you might be experiencing.
Moreover, if the cough is due to a respiratory infection, they might order diagnostic tests such as a chest X-ray, sputum culture, or blood tests. These tests help identify the specific type of infection and determine the most effective treatment approach.
Also Read: Pulmonary Vascular Congestion An-Overview
When should you consult a Pulmonary doctor for a cough?
If you have any of the following symptoms along with a persistent cough, you should think about seeing a pulmonologist or respiratory specialist:
- Shortness of breath: If you are having difficulty breathing or feel short of breath, especially during physical activity, this could indicate an underlying respiratory condition that requires medical attention.
- Chest pain: If you experience chest torment or distress while coughing, this could demonstrate an issue with your lungs or chest wall.
- Persistent cough: Even if you have taken over-the-counter medications, if you have had a cough for several weeks, this could be a sign of a more severe condition.
- Coughing up blood: If you cough up blood or phlegm-containing blood, this could be a sign of a severe respiratory condition that needs treatment right away.
- Wheezing: If you experience a high-pitched whistling sound when breathing, this could indicate an underlying respiratory condition such as asthma.
- Fatigue: if you experience extreme tiredness or fatigue, that can indicate an underlying respiratory condition affecting your overall health.
Furthermore, pulmonary doctors can perform a comprehensive examination to ascertain the underlying cause of your symptoms and suggest an appropriate treatment strategy.
Other Reasons to See a Pulmonologist:
A patient may be referred to a pulmonologist by a primary care physician for more than just a persistent cough. The following are additional signs that may call for specialized pulmonary care:
- Difficulty breathing normally, especially during physical activity
- Chest tightness
- Recurrent bronchitis
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Uncontrolled asthma, or asthma with unknown triggers
- Complications from smoking
Moreover, if you have previously been diagnosed with a respiratory condition, you might keep having booked arrangements to deal with your sickness.
The most common causes of a cough:
Coughing can be caused by many conditions, in addition to respiratory infections. Following are some of the common causes of cough:
- Upper respiratory infection (URI): The more popular name for this is the common cold. In this condition, the respiratory tract gets infected by numerous viruses. That includes the flu, coronaviruses, rhinovirus, and RSV. When these infections cause coughing, it does not necessarily mean the infection has entered the lungs.
- Bronchitis: When infected, the upper airways can become inflamed, resulting in bronchitis. Even after the infection has been treated, it can cause a persistent cough. Similarly to colds, it is observed that viruses are the root cause of over 95% of bronchitis cases.
- Postnasal drip: The back of the throat becomes congested due to this condition. A common cause of this congestion is a cold or allergies.
- Pneumonia: A lung infection caused due to bacteria or viruses. Moreover, because the infection is deep within the lower respiratory tract, this is distinct from URIs. Common signs and symptoms include fever and shortness of breath.
- Heart failure: When the heart is not pumping effectively, liquid upholds in the lungs and can cause coughing. That generally happens alongside fatigue, swelling of the legs, and shortness of breath.
- Lung disease: Anyone with asthma or COPD understands how these conditions can result in frequent coughing and wheezing. Specific triggers include infections, allergens, exercise, or irritants like smoking cigarettes.
- ACE inhibitors: It is one of the most common medications for high blood pressure. In these cases, the cough does not resolve unless the medication stops.
- Acid reflux: GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) doesn’t just cause heartburn — it can also cause a chronic cough. That is especially true in more severe cases. Furthermore, that happens when acid travels up the esophagus and then irritates the upper parts of the airway.
What are the treatment options for cough?
Depending on the cause of your cough, medication might be prescribed to you by your pulmonary doctor. Some of these include:
- Cough medication: Your cough is treated with a variety of over-the-counter medications. Moreover, pulmonologists might also recommend a few prescription cough medicines, such as benzonatate or promethazine.
- Steroids: Prednisone can help reduce some of the inflammation that causes a cough in people who have bronchitis or inflammation of the airways. Asthmatic or COPD sufferers are more likely to experience this.
- Inhalers: Albuterol, an inhaled medication, might benefit some people. Similarly to steroids, people with chronic lung conditions are more likely to benefit from this.
- Antibiotics: If you have pneumonia, antibiotics may be necessary to treat your infection. The kind of infection and your age determine which antibiotic to use.
Additionally, there are a few things you can attempt at home that could be useful to you:
- Humidified air
- Vitamin C
A cough can take some time to overcome. However, a great many people need a convenient solution. It is essential to give it time and rest. Honey and vitamin C are two examples of home remedies that may be helpful along the way. If your cough persists or worsens after several days, see a pulmonary doctor immediately. Search the institute of lungnsleep near me and opt for the best medical health professional. Furthermore, they can run some quick tests on you to check the severity of your condition. Additionally, they can get you the treatment you require to ensure you are on the right track to recovery.