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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Forum
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1762594 tn?1320186284

Loose Phlegm Cough for 3 Weeks

I contracted a cold about three weeks ago.  First, my throat itched, then I started sneezing.  Next, I had burning and tightness in my right lung.  I had a fever of about 101.1 for about three days.  I believed that I had a short-lived bout of bronchitis.

Three weeks later and I still am coughing. When I look at the phlegm, it is colorless, just as clear as can be.  Sometimes I find it difficult to cough it up.

Given that I have smoked for over 40 years, I am quite concerned.  Would the symptoms I have had and am having be an indicator of COPD?  Should I ask my doctor to order a chest x-ray?

Thank you so much for your assistance.

Respectfully,

WAO
1 Responses
242587 tn?1355424110
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
The symptoms you describe are consistent with the diagnosis of acute bronchitis, superimposed on chronic lung inflammation due to smoking.  Chronic lung inflammation due to smoking is a factor that would be expected to prolong the recovery period of any acute lung condition, be it bronchitis or pneumonia.  That your phlegm is clear suggests that any infection you might have had at the beginning of this “cold” might have cleared.

However, your long history of smoking increases the chances of this illness being more than a nuisance and so it would be wise for you to see your doctor for any respiratory illness lasts longer than one might expect.  Physical examination and a chest X-ray would be appropriate.  You may well have COPD.  Further clarification of that would require pulmonary function testing, best performed at a time when your current acute lung condition has resolved and your lungs are clinically back to baseline.

The bottom line is that, after many years of smoking, any new-onset symptoms of lung disease especially when sustained for more than 3 weeks, warrant further investigation by your doctor.

Your illness is probably just chronic bronchitis with superimposed acute bronchitis but it is wise to be safe and find out what is going on.

Good luck
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