I have had a cough on and off for the last 4 months. It is not getting worse, it has gotten a bit better yet remains constant - I have that irritated airway feeling, almost like an urge to cough, during most of the day, but it is only a strong enough urge to actually cough about 2 times a day. It is not productive, I am not coughing blood. I have had an irritated throat and minor nasal congestion on and off.
I have been to my doctor, a pulmonogist specialist and internist 3 times now. Each time, he treats the symptoms, e.g. antibiotic, suggests humidifer, etc... He does not order tests like a chest x ray. I am concerned because each time I cough, I remember stories I have read where a woman had a nagging cough, and then boom, lung cancer diagnosis. I smoked socially only - here and there with friends - in my 20s, and have not had a cigarette at all in 10 years. I am 42 and otherwise very healthy.
How concerned should I be? How likely could this be soemthing ominous? Should I force a chest xray? I have asked my Dr. each of the visits and he says "no you do not need an xray, you are not an active smoker". Is it the case that the reality of lung cancer is that is truly is considered more rare in non-smoking people under 45? would I not have other symptoms by now? I run 3 days a week and my lungs seem fine, no breathlessness, etc...
Coughing is one of the most common symptoms. It can occur from many, many reasons from the upper airways (sinuses, post nasal drainage with or without allergy) to a secondary effect from a viral illness, to lung problems, such as asthma, bronchitis and, of course, cancer. Lung cancer is not common in a 45 year old non-smoker and that is why other tests and therapeutic trials are often recommended before x-rays etc. The most common reason is from an irritation of the upper airways. Often an inhaled nasal steroid controls the cough whether this is due to allergy or not. It is worth a try and I would recommend speaking to your physician about this simple trial. If this fails, other tests, such a sinus CT scan and a chest x-ray may be the next steps in the evaluation process. Work with your physician and express your concerns.
I am not a doctor. Only want to offer some advice.
My doctor gives his patients a chest x-ray with their annual physicals. There's no reason why you can't have an x-ray, if anything it will ease your mind. My husband couged for three months one time. When he went to see the doctor, they ordered a chest x-ray. They found a very treatable problem, put him on antibiotics and he was fine after that. I would push for the x-ray because it will only keep bothering you. Good Luck.
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