July 24, 2018

Managing a persistent cough

Having a persistent cough is one of the most common symptoms of lung cancer and other lung diseases. It can be very debilitating and distressing when you can’t stop coughing and it can become more prevalent as lung cancer becomes more advanced. It can impact your daily activities meaning you may feel more tired, lack an appetite, and experience increased pain and anxiety.

A cough can vary from person to person and may be dry or moist. If you have a moist cough your phlegm should be clear or white in colour. If your sputum becomes yellow, green or bloody, it is important you see your health professional as soon as possible.

The first goal of treating a persistent cough is to address any underlying causes. Communicating how often you are coughing and what triggers you to cough more with your health professional is an important aspect of self managing. They can adapt your treatment to address the underlying cause and suit your needs. Potential treatments include antibiotics if an infection is present, corticosteroids, bronchodilators or a cough suppressant.

Practical tips to manage coughing:

  • If your cough is dry, make sure you are hydrated
  • Drink warm honey and suck on sweets or lollies
  • Inhale the steam from hot water
  • In consultation with your health professional, trial a cough suppressant
  • Seek a referral to a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to assist in managing a persistent and irritating cough as well as clearing phlegm.

Make sure you talk to your health professional about these tips to determine which are most suitable for your needs.