ZocdocAnswersCan excessive coughing cause rapid weight loss?

Question

Can excessive coughing cause rapid weight loss?

My father (age 62) has had a really bad, raspy cough for over a year. I think it keeps him up at night, but he won't say. Anyway, I notice that he has also lost a lot of weight pretty rapidly over the last few months. Could this be an effect of the coughing? I thought it might be changing his appetite, too.

Answer

A cough itself would not typically cause weight loss. However, there are many possible causes for a dry cough that lasts a while that can be associated with weight loss. I will say up front that all of these possible causes should be evaluated by a physician right away. There are several things that can cause a dry cough. A very common medication known as an ACE inhibitor that treats high blood pressure can cause a cough. Smoking or asthma can cause coughs. A chronic runny nose or even heart failure can cause a long standing cough. Unintentional weight loss with or without a cough is a worrisome sign. If your father has a history of smoking, and he has weight loss with a cough, then he will need a work up to make sure he does not have lung cancer. Weight loss and a cough could also be due to a lung infection such as tuberculosis. I suggest you have your dad schedule an appointment with his primary care physician sooner than later. He needs a detailed history taken along with a good physical exam. His doctor may decide to order a chest x ray. His recent weight loss will need a thorough workup. Good luck.

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