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This information was reviewed and approved by Bronwyn Long, DNP, MBA, ACHPN, AOCNS, ACNS-BC, Jeffrey Kern, MD, Laurie L. Carr, MD, Jeffrey Kern, MD, Bronwyn Long, DNP, MBA, ACHPN, AOCNS, ACNS-BC, Laurie L. Carr, MD (10/1/2019).

Cough can be an especially distressing symptom of lung cancer. It can interfere with breathing and sleep and make it difficult for you to talk.

It can cause pain and, in some cases, severe coughing can cause pathological rib fractures in people who have lung cancer metastases to their ribs. A cough can decrease your quality of life when it is persistent and prevent you from enjoying your daily activities.

A dry cough with lung cancer does not produce sputum. A productive cough with lung cancer brings up sputum from your lungs. Hemoptysis is the term for coughing up blood. While cough is often a symptom of your disease, it can also be associated with cancer treatment, especially radiation of the chest.

What to Do with a Cough

  • Drink a lot of water, 8 eight-ounce glasses in 24 hours.

  • Keep cough or throat drops in your purse or briefcase to help prevent your cough from starting.

  • Identify triggers for your cough. Treatment can address new ways to manage the activities or events that seem to bring on your cough.

  • Consider using a humidifier if you have a dry cough.

  • Try drinking hot herbal tea mixed with lemon juice and honey, which can sooth irritated membranes.

  • Take medications as directed.


What Not to Do with a Cough


  • Smoke. Stop smoking if you currently smoke; stay away from smoke-filled rooms if you do not smoke. Smoke and other environmental irritants can contribute to cough.

  • Cold air

  • Dust

  • Rigorous exercise


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