Chesty cough is a reflex action that occurs when the body is trying to expel excess mucus or phlegm that may have accumulated in the respiratory system. This is described as a productive cough, and it is different from non-productive coughs like dry or tickly coughs. It is wise to have the condition diagnosed and treated immediately since some of the symptoms can be very disturbing.
Some of the factors that contribute to chesty coughs include:
- Viral infections like cold and flu
- Lung infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia
- Health conditions like cystic fibrosis and chronic bronchitis
- Prolonged smoking
How is the mucus produced?
The air tubes that facilitate flow of oxygen to the lungs have membranes that are lined with mucus to trap any unwanted particles. These can be viruses, bacteria or even dust. This is a protective measure that helps to prevent infections in the respiratory system. In case of foreign matter, excess mucus is produced to assist in fighting off possible infections. It is this excess mucus that is linked to productive coughs.
Signs and symptoms
In most cases, a mucus cough will occur following an infection by flu or cold viruses. It is, therefore, possible to experience most of the symptoms associated with such infections. However, there are specific signs that are associated with chesty coughs including:
- Sore throat- attributed to the mucus produced when coughing
- Chest pains- due to straining, or even bruising, of muscles when coughing
- Abdominal pains- caused by straining of abdominal muscles when coughing
When should you visit a medical professional?
For some people, differentiating among various types of coughs can be a problem, and they may end up taking any available cough medication. However, this can’t work since most of the available over the counter medications are usually meant for dry and tickly coughs. You should, therefore, consider visiting your GP if you do not notice any progress after taking such drugs.
There are symptoms that will require you to seek medical help immediately. These include coughing up blood, severe chest pains, high body temperatures, wheezing, breathing difficulties and persistent headaches. There are also people who should be highly concerned especially those experiencing other medical conditions like heart ailments, high blood pressure, thyroid problems, respiratory problems, and diabetes. The same case should apply to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Managing the condition
In most cases, expectorants are recommended for chesty cough, and these are used to break down the layers of mucus. This makes it easier to expel the mucus when coughing. Expectorants are available from pharmaceutical stores and other drug stores that stock conventional medicine. There are also herbal remedies that work great in treating chesty cough.
There are some tips that you can follow to suppress some symptoms of chesty cough including gargling with salty water, keeping warm, drinking plenty of water and getting enough bed rest. To avoid the spread of mucus cough, you should keep your mouth covered when sneezing and avoid shaking hands.