Common ailments

Persistent cough

I’ve had a persistent cough for about a month now. My daughter says that I should have it checked out, but I don’t feel too bad and I don’t want to waste my doctor’s time. What should I do?

While it’s probably nothing serious, if you have had a cough which has lasted for three weeks or more, you really should see you doctor right away.  

A persistent cough lasting three weeks or more can be a symptom of lung cancer. The chances are that it won’t be but, if it is something serious, the earlier a diagnosis of lung cancer is made, the more treatable it is.

Here in Nottingham City alone, nearly 200 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and it kills more people than any other form of cancer. If diagnosed early however, treatment can be successful and more lives can be saved.

As well as a persistent cough, other symptoms of lung cancer include coughing up blood, breathlessness, repeated chest infections, and feeling more tired than usual or losing weight for no obvious reason. I urge you, and anyone reading who has any of these symptoms, to visit their doctor. The same applies if it is someone in your family – get them to see their GP.

As for worrying about wasting your doctor’s time - trust me, your GP really won’t see it that way. We want to see you, and we’d much rather it was at a point when we can do as much as possible to help!

You may have seen that there is some national and local advertising around lung cancer at the moment, which shows what an important issue this is. More information is also available at nhs.uk/lungcancer.

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