What is a wet cough?

A wet cough is a common symptom of respiratory infection, allergies, and heart conditions. The medical term for a wet cough is productive cough. A wet cough results from the presence of mucus within the upper or lower respiratory tract. It may occur in conditions affecting one or both lungs, the bronchi, the larynx, or the pharynx. It may also be associated with more generalized conditions, such as a cold, hay fever, or the flu.

Coughing Spotlight

Specific causes of a wet cough include infection and inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) and bronchi (bronchitis). Other specific causes include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis (destruction and widening of the large airways), cystic fibrosis, and tuberculosis. Cancer of the lung is a common cause of a wet cough that may bring up bloody sputum (hemoptysis). Allergies involving the lungs (asthma) can also cause a wet cough.

Heart conditions can lead to a wet cough; serious causes include fluid buildup in the lungs due to an acute episode of congestive heart failure

In some cases, a wet cough may be a sign of a serious or-life threatening condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have serious symptoms, such as severe difficulty breathing and sharp chest pain, which may be accompanied by high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), pale or blue lips, change in level of consciousness or alertness, or rapid heart rate.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for a wet cough but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with a wet cough?

A wet cough may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the respiratory tract may also involve other body systems.... Read more about wet coughsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes a wet cough?

A wet cough is a common symptom of respiratory infections or heart conditions. It results from the presence of mucus within the upper or lower respiratory tract. It may occur in conditions affecting one or both lungs, the bronchi, the larynx, or the pharynx. It may also be associated with more generalized conditions, such as a cold, hay fever, or the flu.... Read more about wet coughcauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Lungs, Breathing and Respiration


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