Preparing for your appointment

While you may initially see your family doctor, he or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in lung disorders (pulmonologist).

What you can do

It's a good idea to write a list that includes:

  • Detailed descriptions of your symptoms
  • Information about medical problems you've had
  • Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
  • All the medications, including over-the-counter drugs, and dietary supplements you take
  • Questions you want to ask the doctor

What to expect from your doctor

A thorough medical history and physical exam can provide important clues about a chronic cough. Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:

  • What are your symptoms and when did they begin?
  • Did you recently have the flu or a cold?
  • Do you now or have you ever smoked tobacco?
  • Does anyone in your family or workplace smoke?
  • Are you exposed to dust or chemicals at home or at work?
  • Do you have heartburn?
  • Do you cough up anything? If so, what does it look like?
  • Do you take blood pressure medicine? If so, what type do you take?
  • When does your cough occur?
  • Does anything relieve your cough? What treatments have you tried?
  • Do you get more short of breath with exertion? Or on exposure to cold air?
  • What is your travel history?
April 27, 2016
References
  1. Cough. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cough/. Accessed March 2, 2016.
  2. Bope ET, et al. The respiratory system. In: Conn's Current Therapy 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 2, 2016.
  3. Benich JJ, et al. Evaluation of the patient with chronic cough. American Academy of Family Physicians. www.aafp.org/afp. Accessed March 2, 2016.
  4. Silvestri RC, et al. Evaluation of subacute and chronic cough in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 2, 2016.
  5. Weinberger SE, et al. Treatment of subacute and chronic cough in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 9, 2016.
  6. Chang AB, et al. Cough in the pediatric population. Otolaryngology Clinics of North America. 2010;43:181.
  7. Morice AH, et al. Recommendations for the management of cough in adults. Thorax. 2006;61(supp):1.
  8. AskMayoExpert. Chronic cough. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  9. An important FDA reminder for parents: Do not give infants cough and cold products designed for older children. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/SpecialFeatures/ucm263948.htm. Accessed March 8, 2016.
  10. Islam S. Flexible bronchoscopy: Indications and contraindications. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 20, 2016.
  11. Gibson P, et al. Treatment of unexplained chronic cough. Chest. 2016;149:27.
  12. Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 14, 2016.
  13. Irwin RS, et al. Diagnosis and management of cough executive summary: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2006;129:1S.
  14. Schmitt BD. Pediatric Telephone Protocols. 15th ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2016:106.
  15. What is COPD? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/. Accessed April 4, 2016.