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Persistent Cough

A cough affects us all at some time but when it disrupts your daily life or a good night’s sleep, it needs sorting. Often the cause is not simple and may need a detailed assessment to tackle it.

Why Am I Coughing?

Most coughs relate to picking up a cold, flu or a chest infection.  The cough can occur day or night and may produce some phlegm or sputum.  However if a cough persists for more than 3 weeks then it’s important to get it checked out.

Should I worry about my cough?

Yes if you have associated symptoms like persistent fevers or night sweats or you have coughed up blood.  Breathlessness can also be a warning that the cough is more than a simple cold or flu. Also if you have previous respiratory conditions.

What causes a prolonged cough?

Some infections can cause a cough that lasts for many weeks, eg whooping cough (click on the link for this condition).  A long lasting cough may be a sign of sinusitis and post nasal drip. Acid and non-acid reflux can commonly cause a problematic cough. A type of Asthma can trigger coughing without wheezing or breathlessness. More serious conditions may also lead to coughing.  These include Lung Cancer, Bronchiectasis, Pulmonary Fibrosis and Tuberculosis.

Stethoscope on table

What tests may I need to investigate my cough?

Tailored investigations will be suggested depending on the length of your cough, the pattern of your cough and associated symptoms.  Often you will need a Chest Xray, breathing tests, blood tests and sputum analysis.

How do I treat my cough?

Most cough medicines can provide some symptom relief but do not deal with the underlying problem.  It’s very important to get a clear diagnosis and receive the individual treatment for your particular cough.


The New Victoria Hospital
184 Coombe Lane West
Kingston Upon Thames
Surrey KT2 7EG