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Doctor insights on: Coughing Up Sputum

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Why do smokers cough up sputum?

Why do smokers cough up sputum?

Smoke deposits: Tar and other materials in the smoke get deposited in the lungs. Coughing it out is the only way the body can get rid of it. Otherwise it would build up to the point that one couldn't breathe over a few months. Over time, the normal cleaning mechanisms of the lungs and windpipe get overwhelmed and the effects of smoking multiply. ...Read more

Dr. Sue Ferranti
3,457 doctors shared insights

Cough (Definition)

Coughing is an important way to keep your throat and airways clear. However, excessive coughing may mean you have an underlying disease or disorder. Some coughs are dry, while others are considered productive. A productive cough is one ...Read more


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I stopped smoking two months ago and i still cough up sputum sometimes in the morning. Will it ever go away completely?

I stopped smoking two months ago and i still cough up sputum sometimes in the morning. Will it ever go away completely?

Yes: People who smoke tend to produce an excessive amount of mucus as their bodies attempt to protect against the toxins in the smoke, when they stop smoking it often takes months for the excessive mucus production to return to normal. Congratulations on stopping and things will return to normal assuming there are not any significant changes in your lung function. ...Read more

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I've had a fever for 2 days, a cough, tightness in chest, achy joints, coughing up sputum and it's difficult to breathe deep.should I see a Dr?

I've had a fever for 2 days, a cough, tightness in chest, achy joints, coughing up sputum and it's difficult to breathe deep.should I see a Dr?

Yes: From the Family Doc perspective, viral upper respiratory infections are much more common than bacterial. And they all present in similar fashion. Plus sputum color doesn't really tell us anything. So the reason I would recommend that you see your GP is b/c you're reporting difficulty breathing. That needs to be evaluated ASAP. Please don't wait to see if that will go away. Go to A&E if necessary. ...Read more

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I am really wheezy and coughing up sputum today. Can I use an extra ventolin dose here and there?

I am really wheezy and coughing up sputum today.  Can I use an extra ventolin dose here and there?

Yes: Yes you can - but it is highly recommended that you discuss this with a physician who may be able to figure out if your current medication regimen is appropriate. When an exacerbation of asthma is present ventolin can be used every 4 hours or so, but notifying your doctor is a great idea. ...Read more

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Should a doctor prescribe an antitussive to a patient with chronic bronchitis that is coughing up sputum?

Should a doctor prescribe an antitussive to a patient with chronic bronchitis that is coughing up sputum?

Not necessarily: I am not a fan of antitussives for many reasons. If you have sputum, it is good to get it out. For sleep you can try to supress the cough, but studies show even prescriptions don't work very well. In desperation people spend money on things that don't work. Interestingly, honey has been shown to do a pretty good job, so get a cup of no-caffeine herbal tea with a tsp of honey to sip before bed. ...Read more

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Chronic bronchial asthma. 2 days coughing up green sputum, no voice, SOB, uncontrolled cough even with benzonatate. No wheeze, o2 94-96%?

Chronic bronchial asthma.  2 days coughing up green sputum, no voice, SOB, uncontrolled cough even with benzonatate. No wheeze, o2 94-96%?

Pneumonia: You have acute pneumonia or bacterial bronchitis and you need urgent medical attention. You also list no medical history of any conditions or medications. Without adequate information about your general health, we cannot provide you with any more advice. Please see your doctor. ...Read more

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Im coughing up bloody sputum specially when i wake up .. it is the most then but during the day it can be spots or so ?

Im coughing up bloody sputum specially when i wake up .. it is the most then but during the day it can be spots or so ?

See doctor: Please see a doctor as soon as possible. Blood in the sputum can be from something like bronchitis but can also be a sign of something more serious like tuberculosis or lung cancer. This is not an emergency but please do not ignore this. See a doctor soon. ...Read more

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My Dr told me my pneumonia had infiltrated my lung yet I'm not coughing up any sputum. Is this dangerous??

My Dr told me my pneumonia had infiltrated my lung yet I'm not coughing up any sputum. Is this dangerous??

Cannot say: without an exam, I can only give general information. And while generally people who don't mobilize secretions are at risk of worse problems, also generally people diagnosed with "pneumonia" are treated and are getting better. ...Read more

Dr. Layne Gentry
618 doctors shared insights

Sputum (Definition)

Sputum is mucus that comes up from the lungs and can be ...Read more