Cracking the cough code

Recognize cough symptoms so you know when to seek treatment.


Image: © Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Dry cough, wet cough, a cough that lingers on — they're all signs of one or more underlying conditions. What does each type of cough indicate, and how do doctors discern the difference? It depends on the type and duration of the cough.

Wet cough

A wet, productive cough produces sputum (phlegm or mucus from the lungs or sinuses). The cough sounds soupy and may come with a wheezing or rattling sound and tightness in your chest.

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