Health24.com | 7 dangerous conditions that start with a cough

We all cough from time to time. Sometimes we simply have a scratchy throat, and especially during the winter months we cough due to colds and flu. We rarely pay too much attention to a cough and it usually goes away after a few days.

But when is a cough more than just a frog in your throat, or a symptom of the common cold? In serious diseases such as asthma, tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) a cough is often the first indication that something is seriously wrong.

Due to intensive public awareness campaigns, many people are familiar with these disorders, but unfortunately not all dangerous conditions associated with a cough are “front of mind”. Here are seven dangerous conditions you should consider when you are suffering from a cough. Although some of these are rare, it’s worth checking them out.

1. Lung cancer

We know that smoking is a big risk factor for developing lung cancer, but even non-smokers can be at risk. Lung cancer starts when abnormal cells grow in the bronchial walls, according to a Health24 review. Coughing can be a sign of cancer and is caused by intrabronchial protrusion of the tumour. This lesion may change the character of sound in chronic coughers to a “brassy” sound. Research from the Sheffield Hallam University indicates that you should go to the doctor if a new cough persists for more than three weeks. At an advanced stage sufferers are likely to cough up blood, which is an urgent indicator that you should get medical attention.

cough, cough causes

2. Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease characterised by abnormally thick, sticky mucus that prevents organs such as the lungs and pancreas from working correctly. According to The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation “the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria, leading to infections, extensive lung damage, and eventually, respiratory failure”. Thick sputum (substance produced by coughing or clearing the throat), and a chronic cough and wheezing are signs of this disease.

cough, cough causes

3. Atelectasis

Atelectasis occurs when one or more areas of your lungs collapse or don’t inflate properly. It can be due to an accumulation of mucus in the airways, and coughing might actually bring some relief. Coughing might be more severe than is normal for you, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and this can be an indicator of the condition.

cough, cough causes

4. Congestive heart failure

Some conditions cause immediate and noticeable harm, but other ones like congestive heart failure (CHF) usually develop over time. Sufferers’ hearts are unable to pump blood effectively and/or prevent blood from accumulating in the lungs. An early symptom of the disease is a dry, hacking cough, especially when lying down. A Health24 review shows CHF should not be ignored as it can lead to a heart attack, and ultimately death.

cough, cough causes

5. Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects many organs in the body. A study by the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research found that it triggered heightened immunity, “which means that a person’s immune system, which normally protects the body from infection and disease, overreacts and damages the body’s own tissues”. When sarcoidosis affects the lungs (also called pulmonary fibrosis) inflammation can scar lung tissue leading to reduced oxygen levels. A dry cough that persists, and struggling to breathe are potential signs of this disease.

cough, cough causes

6. Pulmonary oedema

Pulmonary oedema means that there is excess fluid in the lungs. The fluid collects in the air sacs, making it difficult to breathe. A cough that produces sputum with small bubbles can be a sign of pulmonary oedema, research from the University of Maryland found. It is advisable to consult a doctor when you produce pink, frothy sputum during a cough.

cough, cough causes

7. Acute respiratory distress syndrome

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is a contagious and sometimes fatal viral respiratory illness, according to a Health24 review. Symptoms are similar to those of other respiratory illnesses like flu and pneumonia. The disease is transferred when a person coughs, and a chronic, persistent cough might be a sign of SARS. Consult a doctor if you struggle to get rid of a cough.

cough, cough causes

Images provided by iStock.

Health24.com | What this rural granny is doing to stay healthy

Taking her medication correctly, regular exercise and healthy eating are the secrets to a good life according Meriam Makhaya (71) from Limpopo.

The rural pensioner is extremely fit and healthy despite living with high blood pressure and diabetes. Makhaya is a resident of Ha-Mphego village, outside Thohoyandou and was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure years ago.

Working hard and exercising

At that time she made a promise to herself to take good care of her health by following her treatment programme properly and eating healthily. She has since started a small vegetable garden at her home to make sure she has a good supply of fresh vegetables.

While celebrating her 70th birthday recently, Makhaya said, “I keep on telling other elderly people like me that they must not just sit down the whole day and relax without doing anything. Keeping busy is a form of exercise. I always argue with my children who say that I work too hard. But I tell them that by working hard I am exercising hence I still look this good.”

Makhaya usually spends her free time repairing clothes on her sewing machine.

“I grew up using different sewing machines and most of them I used to use my feet to operate. Today I am still fit and able to walk long distances,” she said.

“I have made taking my pills a hobby. I never miss them not a single day. Many people are dying early before their time because they neglect their medication and bodies. I do not eat anything other than fresh and healthy food, especially the vegetables from my backyard garden,” said Makhaya.

‘She is a soldier’

She said many people tell her she looks too young and healthy to be 71 years old.

“My health and well-being is my number one priority. It is my responsibility to make sure that I look after myself and my health all the times,” she said proudly.

Her eldest son, Fhatuwani Makhaya, described her as a soldier who fears God and respects her health.

“She is a soldier. At her age she still attends every session at church, whether it’s during the week or over the weekend. And then she comes back home to water her vegetable garden,” he said. – Health-e News.