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Dry cugh, irritation in throat from cough, normal XRAY.

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About a year ago, I developed an annoying dry cough. I had a chest x-ray last May that was negative. Allergy testing indicated nothing, and it was attributed to prolonged irritation from the coughing itself. I also have a post-nasal tendency so generate quite a bit of mucous that requires clearing, especially in the morning. Early last week, I developed fever, chills, diarrhea, general soreness, and deepening of my cough. After a couple of days (and some Immodium), the diarrhea symptoms largely cleared. My cough persisted -- mostly coughing up clear (nothing yellow or green). In one instance, and for the first time ever, there were two or three small drops of blood. When I inhale, there is no wheezing and passageways are clear. For a few days when I exhaled, I could generate some mild wheezing but what came up still was clear. My doctor has me on five days of Zithromax (Azithromycin) and Mucinex. Over the course of the last few days, my symptoms have improved significantly. I have a sore spot in my back, which my doctor describes as a mild spasm. I am a non-smoker, have never been exposed to radon, and have no history of lung cancer in my family. Right now, I feel fine except for the cough. I have some night sweating, but my temperature is normal. How concerned should I be about lung cancer? Thanks.

Category: Oncologist

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Category: Hematologist
 21 Doctors Online

Thanks for your query at
The symptoms you have looks like more of mild to moderate infection. However I cannot just rule out the possibility of cancer just with this.
I would like to know about your exposure to traffic smoke / occupational hazard / exposure, etc.
However, if these symptoms persist you can consult your family physician for a low dose CT screening in case of any strong clinical suspicion.
Please revert in case of additional queries.

Patient replied :

Thanks for getting back to me. In response to your question about exposures, I am a non-smoker, am not exposed to air pollution or secondary smoke, have had no contact with radon, and always have worked in a clean office environment free of occupational hazards. I have no problem inhaling fully, and the Mucinex/Zythromycin have made a noticeable improvement in reducing the mild wheezing when exhaling -- pretty much eliminating it unless I am very forceful. Today, I am trying to force up whatever is left in my lungs. I have been able to produce a small amount of yellow (zero blood) -- but only with forceful effort and still mostly clear. I always have had and still do have significant post-nasal drip, which was perceived to be the most likely source of the persistent dry cough. I hope this information responds to your query regarding environmental exposure. By the way, given the clean chest xRay last May and assuming a malignancy now existed, would odds favor it being in an early stage? That should do it from this end. Thanks.

X-rays can be still negative. If you want complete clearance of your doubt, please do a chest CT screening.


Dr. Prasad Eswaran
Category: Hematologist
Doctorate in Medicine (Fellowship in Oncology), DM,  Madras Medical College & Govt. General Hospital, Chennai, India.

Doctor of Medicine (Residency in Radiation Oncology) , MD, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamilnadu, India, 2004-06.

Diploma in Medical Radiology & Therapy (Residency in Radiation Oncology), D.M.R.T, Madras Medical College & Govt. General Hospital, Chennai, India, 2004-06.

Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery - M.B.B.S, Govt. Stanley Medical College & Hospital, Chennai, India, 1998-2004.
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