Cough history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Abiodun Akanmode,M.D.[2]

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Making a list of differential diagnosis when a patient presents with a cough can be challenging; however, the clinician should take a detailed cough history. To do this successfully, the clinician must ask himself the following:

  • How to classify the cough based on the duration of symptoms.
  • What are some of the additional questions to as about the cough.
  • What are the red flags in this patient.

Cough History

A detailed cough history should cover the following:

  • Onset of symptoms.
  • Dry vs Productive cough.If productive,sputum content,color,amount etc.
  • Duration.
  • Exacerbating/relieving factors.
  • Previous episodes.
  • Frequency.
  • Drug use eg:ACEIs

Associated symptoms



  1. "StatPearls". 2020. PMID 29630273 PMID: 29630273 Check |pmid= value (help).
  2. Ojuawo OB, Aladesanmi AO, Opeyemi CM, Desalu OO, Fawibe AE, Salami AK (2019). "Profile of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Ilorin who were never-smokers". Niger J Clin Pract. 22 (2): 221–226. doi:10.4103/njcp.njcp_344_18. PMID 30729946 PMID: 30729946 Check |pmid= value (help).

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