Eduardo knows he is strong for his age of 70. He even boasts that he can still lift a sack of rice if you dared him to (though no one has ever indulged him with a challenge). Though retired, he insists in helping his son in the construction business, serving as the project site’s designated foreman. He is never absent or late and never calls in sick. He is seen to have a cold or a cough every now and then, though none of those episodes ever stopped him from his duties.
But his resilience was put to the test one Sunday afternoon. While going around the mall with his family, he felt that his cough (which he recalled started “just a couple of weeks ago”) was getting worse. He never really paid attention to his cough before and never thought it was worth a doctor’s visit, but today was different—he was convinced it was more than just a symptom of the common cold. Just before letting the family know he wanted to visit the doctor, he went to the men’s room to clear his throat. To his horror, he saw that he was not coughing out phlegm anymore—he was already spewing blood. He collapsed on the restroom floor.
After a series of tests done in the hospital, Eduardo was found to have been harboring tuberculosis and pneumonia for several months.
Just like Eduardo, many Filipinos are not aware that a simple cough can turn out to be a telltale sign of something much worse. To some (especially those who don’t have the financial capacity to seek medical advice often), a cough is just something that will dissipate by itself just like the common cold. What they don’t know about having chronic cough is that the condition could mean there is an underlying health problem that needs to be addressed by a doctor.
How to identify chronic cough? A cough that lasts for less than three weeks is called an acute cough. If it lasts longer, especially if it has been bugging you for more than eight weeks straight, it becomes a chronic condition.