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"Why do my colds always go violently to my chest?"


I'm a 24 year woman, in generally good health. I've been sick a lot this year due to recently starting work at a preschool. I had whooping cough at age 14 (not vaccinated against pertussis due to reaction as infant), and since have had many more colds with longer and more painful durations. The coughing is quite painful and sputum tastes metallic. Is this something to be highly concerned about or is this a normal part of a common cold for some people?


Taking your whole story in, it definitely would make sense for you to be catching a lot more viral upper respiratory tract infections while working at a preschool especially in the first year. However, I don't think that you are simply catching the common cold. Your symptoms sound more like viral bronchitis, or a lower airway infection.

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The symptoms of this are the same as the common cold, but it tends to last longer, and the cough persists beyond the other cold symptoms. Whenever you are coughing up a lot of sputum, there is always the concern that you have developed a pneumonia. This is of course a more serious infection that requires antibiotics. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history of your symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. If your doctor is concerned at all that your symptoms may represent a pneumonia, then you may end up needing to get a chest x-ray. If your doctor thinks this is a nasty viral bronchitis, then you would probably benefit from a short course of a steroid inhaler. This will calm down any inflammation in your lungs and reduce the cough. Good luck.

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