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Cough - Symptom Evaluation - Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which doctor should I visit in case I suffer from cough?
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You should visit your general physician if you are suffering from cough for a short duration. A more prolonged cough may need the expertise of a pulmonologist.

2. What are the tests used to diagnose the cause of chronic cough?

A chest x-ray is usually requested to diagnose the cause of chronic cough. Other tests that may be necessary depending on the symptoms of the patient include breathing tests to check for lung function, blood tests, sputum studies, other x-rays (such as those of the sinuses), barium swallow and other gastrointestinal tests to check for GERD, a CT scan of the lungs, and bronchoscopy, wherein a tube with a camera is inserted into the bronchi and the lungs are directly studied for any pathology.

3. What are the medications used to treat cough?
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Medications used to treat cough belong to two main categories. Cough expectorants are those medications that help to bring out the sputum from the lungs and the bronchial tree. These medications are used in wet cough like those due to pneumonia, bronchitis etc. On the other hand, cough suppressants are medications used to suppress cough that is dry, irritating and disturbing, but non-infectious. It should be remembered that cough is basically a protective mechanism of the body to expel a foreign substance or an infectious agent from the respiratory tract. Thus, suppressing cough may be harmful in some cases and cough suppressants should be used judiciously.

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