When Should You Have Your Cough Checked?

My husband’s seven-day hospital confinement towards the last few days of June was the midyear plot twist no one in our family asked for. Believe it or not, it all started with a bad cough.

Cough may be a normal occurrence as it is the body’s way to clear our throat, but our experience taught us to not take it lightly for both kids and adults – most especially if it comes with one or more of these symptoms:

When Should You Have Your Cough Checked?

Bloody phlegm
There’s nothing good about having blood in any of our body’s outputs, phlegm included. According to Medical News Today, a bloody phlegm or sputum is common in mild respiratory infections, but it can also indicate more serious problems such as bronchitis or lung cancer. Moreover, it may come from either the lung or the stomach, which is all the more reason a person who coughs with a bloody phlegm needs to be checked right away.

My husband’s cough didn’t produce phlegm for his was a persistent dry cough. If you or your family member’s cough produces phlegm, observe its color. Yellowish-green already signals a problem; don’t wait for it to have blood before consulting a doctor.

Weight loss
In a traditional society that associates slim figures with beauty, weight loss may be seen as something plausible. However, when a cough comes with unexplained weight loss, it is a sign for alarm. Gradual weight loss is a symptom of pulmonary fibrosis – a condition where a scar tissue develops in the lungs – along with loss of appetite. This scar can cause further complications if not checked in the soonest possible time.

My husband didn’t lose weight, but he isn’t gaining weight either. I remember my sister-in-law saying, “It sometimes pays to be a little paranoid” with little things. A seemingly negligible loss of weight can be an indication of an illness, so be wary.

As it is a symptom of upper respiratory infection, fever that accompanies cough is something to watch out for. While fever can be relieved by over the counter medication, it is always better to consult the doctor than self-medicate.

During their interviews, the doctors kept asking if my husband had fever. This question comes as no surprise since during the height of the pandemic, the fever and cough combo was something we all watched out for. The truth is, the week before my husband asked to be confined, he had chills and fever on separate nights which the doctors dutifully recorded.

Body aches and pains

Pain anywhere in the body that worsens while coughing should be given timely medical attention.

If there was something that prompted my husband to get himself checked for the first time, it’s the body ache he felt along with his persistent cough. He complained of back pain and pain on the lower right hand of his upper body that don’t go away. This is a lesson we wish to share with everyone: don’t delay getting yourself checked.

There’s tiredness that can be wiped away by a good amount of sleep, and there’s exhaustion that even a good rest cannot relieve. Fatigue may be a result of bacterial or viral infections, and should be dutifully noted of when cough is present.

This unexplained fatigue was one of the things my husband complained about within the week before his confinement. It was different from the tiredness I also feel at the end of the day, because I do feel recharged after a good night’s sleep. There’s also value in communicating how your body feels to the people around you, so they can also help you think of your next steps.

Shortness of breath

Among all the symptoms my husband felt prior to confinement, this was the one that worried me the most. This is the final nudge that made us decide to have him admitted. Our silver lining in the middle of this very confusing and disorienting situation is that he decided on getting admitted while it was still daytime; because of that, we had time to call people who could help and assist us here at home while we prepare for hospital admission.

Moms and dads, pay attention to what your body or your kids’ bodies are trying to tell you. Don’t ignore signs and symptoms. There’s timeless wisdom in the adage we hear so often: Health is wealth.


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