Visit your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
· Cough that produces colored sputum and fever;
· Cough that lasts 8 weeks or longer (Mayo Clinic);
· Cough that causes difficulty in breathing, chest pain, or shortness of breath;
· Cough that produces blood;
· Cough that causes sleep deprivation, especially the type that changes in character;
· Cough that doesn’t respond to medication; and
· Cough that interferes with work and social relations.
Most of the time, you don’t need to subject yourself to the emergency room for cough complaints. If the symptoms include pain, presence of blood, or if you already have a serious condition to begin with, however, it is best to be evaluated in the emergency department of the nearest hospital.
Otherwise, go get yourself checked by a doctor during regular clinic hours. To confirm your condition, he may request for a chest X-ray or X-ray of your sinuses. A CT scan or insertion of thin, flexible tube with a camera called a “scope” (endoscope) may be requested to check your internal organs.
X-rays, however, may not reveal the most common causes of chronic cough like asthma, postnasal drip, or acid reflux. X-rays need to be correlated with other such as physical exam, patient’s history, and other lab tests. To check for asthma, you may be required to undergo some lung function tests that involve deep breathing, blowing, or inhaling a drug for asthma.
If you produce colored sputum, you may be asked to submit a specimen of your mucus for laboratory tests that will confirm if bacteria are present.