Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What could be a cough that just won't go away?"
Two months ago I had a small cold. It started with a sore throat and runny nose, then a small cough that developed into a deep, dry, barking cough. Got an X-ray done and went to a pulmonologist, who diagnosed me with Viral Pneumonia, but nothing she gave me worked. (10 days of Ciprofloxacin, Acetylcysteine, Desloratadine, then 10 more days of Ambroxol, then 10 more days of Cefuroxime and Guaifenesin.) Other symptoms I have are a stuffy nose when I lay down and a very mild fever (99.5 F). The cough brings up no mucus at all, despite having tried many different methods to breaking it up, I'm a 19 year old male, I'm not smoking, and have no history of allergies or asthma. I'm really worried, and I've been having panic attacks every night for weeks now. One of my grandfathers died to TB, the other one to lung cancer. I'm pretty freaked out...
There are a few causes of a cough that lasts as long as yours has and the best thing to do is to see your primary care doctor. It sounds like you had an upper respiratory tract infection that have progressed to a viral bronchitis. I doubt you have what we would classify as a viral pneumonia. The antibiotics you took would not have done anything for this type of illness. A viral bronchitis can resolve, but leave a troublesome cough that can linger for a while. How long depends on a few factors. If you were a smoker, then that could explain the persistent cough as smokers take a longer time to recover than non-smokers. If you have asthma (even undiagnosed asthma), then this could explain the cough that has persisted after a viral bronchitis. Since you are still experiencing a stuffy nose, then your doctors will have to consider persistent (or chronic) sinusitis with post-nasal drip as a possible cause of your cough. If your cough is worse first thing in the morning, or during the night, this is consistent with chronic sinusitis as the cause of your cough. The best physician for you to see about this is your primary care doctor. You should not have another course of antibiotics as this would do more harm than good. Your doctor might treat you for mild asthma with an inhaler and for sinusitis with a nasal spray and decongestants. Good luck.
Need more info?See a doctor today
Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.