Cough: Signs and symptoms

Women coughing

Recognising coughs

Coughs can significantly impact daily life,1 and can be a common symptom of colds and flu, making it useful to understand how to recognise the type of cough.2,3

Wet cough and dry cough icon

Signs and symptoms

Dry coughs involve coughing attacks that can cause considerable discomfort and pain. They can be characterised by:

  • No or little mucus
  • More frequent cough episodes
  • Difficulty in stopping the attack
  • A sore, tickly, burning sensation in the throat
  • Usually occurring at night

Wet coughs are a useful defensive mechanism, characterised by:

  • The presence of mucus
  • Associated with the sensation of mucus stuck in the chest
  • The useful loosening of mucus from the chest with cough
  • Intentional, predictable episodes of cough
  • Less frequent and shorter cough episodes4
  • Questions to ask your patient

    Question mark

    Ask your patient:5

    • Are you experiencing wheezing?
    • Are you experiencing shortness of breath?
    • Have you experienced weight loss?
    • Are you experiencing chest pain?
    • Have you coughed up any bloody or pink-tinged phlegm?
    • Are you having difficulty breathing or swallowing?
    • Do you have a fever?
    • Have you been choking or vomiting?
  • When to refer your patient for further care

    HCP man

    The patient should be referred to a physician if any of the following signs and symptoms are observed or reported:6

    • Tachypnoea
    • Cyanosis
    • Thoracic obstruction
    • Bronchial breath
    • Crackles
    • Haemoptysis
    • Dyspnoea
    • Fever
    • Thoracic pain
    • Weight loss

Understanding cough

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Causes

Find out about the causes of cough..

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Management

Learn how cough should be managed.

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Cough

Explore an overview of cough.

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Patient care resources

Access a leaflet for your patients, which can help them understand the causes of coughs and how best to treat them.

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The Otrivin range

Find out how the Otrivin range can help your patients.

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Learning Lab

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