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Cough with light brown sputum - Online Doctor Chats

Date : 21-Feb-2012
User rating for this question
Very Good Posted in: Asthma and Allergy
Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 2408 Questions
User :   coughing up light brown plem.
Doctor :   Hi
Doctor :   How can I help you?
User :   hello
User :   I'm a little worried about brown plem that I have been coughing up in the mornings
Doctor :   May I know your age?
User :   I'm 40 and female
User :   and a smoker unfortunatly
Doctor :   Since when are you having the current symptom?
User :   maybe 2 months or longer, I dont usually spit the stuff out because it doesnt usually come up far enough too
User :   but here lately I've been able to spit some out and its kind of brown
Doctor :   Do you have problems with breathing?
User :   it doesnt feel like it
Doctor :   Any chest pain?
User :   not really
Doctor :   Since how long has this cough been - not the brown phlegm producing cough, but just cough?
User :   well I have been a smoker for a while so every morning I would clear plem, but I had the flu 2 months ago and this cough seems to be left over with the plem
Doctor :   Ok
Doctor :   Initially before you started producing the brown plegm, what was the colour of it (if you had plegm)?
Doctor :   Do you have associated symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, heart burns?
User :   I cant answer that question honestly because I never saw it before because I couldnt cough it up far enough to spit it out, so it would just automaticly be swallowed
Doctor :   Ok
Doctor :   Do you have associated symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, heart burns?
User :   heartburn yes
Doctor :   Ok
Doctor :   Have you lost your appetite?
User :   no most days I still want to eat
Doctor :   Do you notice that you are loosing weight without an apparent cause?
User :   no
Doctor :   Do you have any other medical illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a previous heart illness?
User :   no
Doctor :   Are you on regular pills especially pain killers or aspirin?
User :   no
Doctor :   Ok
Doctor :   Let me explain to you.
User :   I do have post nasal drip though
Doctor :   Ok
Doctor :   Blood when mixed with acid changes its colour to brown.
Doctor :   So based on what you describe, it appear to me that the plegm that you are witnessing is not probably from the lungs but from the stomach.
Doctor :   People suffering from heart burns and gastritis can occasionally have small stomach bleeding.
Doctor :   It's probably the same with you.
Doctor :   And when you cough, due to the increase in the abdominal pressure, the blood mixed with stomach contents are coming out as plegm.
Doctor :   This is the most likely explanation to your symptoms.
Doctor :   Are you following?
User :   yes
Doctor :   Now, the measures that you need to follow are
Doctor :   1. Use antacid syrups such as Syp Mucaine gel a teaspoon thrice a day before food for 2 weeks.
Doctor :   2. Tab Prilosec OTC a day (in the morning half and hour before breatfast) for 10 days
Doctor :   3. Avoid consuming spicy diet, restrict caffeine in any forms.
Doctor :   4. It is time that you plan to quit smoking as they are directly associated as the cause of heart burns.
Doctor :   5. Regular food and proper sleep.
Doctor :   6. De stressing measures such as physical exercises, yoga and meditations.
Doctor :   7. Alcohol consumption can increase gastric and oesophageal bleeding. So no alcohol. If you are a teetotaller then continue the same.
Doctor :   8. An abdominal examination by a gastroenterologist and upper GI endoscopy is entailed if your symptoms aggravate or continues to persist despite these measures.
Doctor :   Have you followed what I have suggested?
User :   yes, I have a question
Doctor :   Proceed.
User :   could my plem just be a light brown simply because I am a smoker
Doctor :   Smoking can lead to changes in the lungs.
Doctor :   Described as COPD in medical terms.
Doctor :   One of the symptoms of COPD is cough.
Doctor :   The cough here produce intially is dry without a sputum later changing to colourless, not foul smelling small quantity sputum.
Doctor :   Presence of coloured sputum, thick ones with or without an odour is abnormal.
Doctor :   Hence my answer to your question is no.
Doctor :   Light brown colour sputum is more likely secondary to the blood mixed with acid of the stomach
Doctor :   and not from the lungs.
Doctor :   Hope that is clear.
User :   it is, so it doesnt matter if it feels like its coming from my airway, it would still be stomach acid mixed with blood
User :   and it does smell bad
Doctor :   Yes, so it is necessary that you follow measures to prevent heart burn/gastritis.
Doctor :   The above mentioned steps are few treating options.
Doctor :   Consult a doctor - a General Physician or a Gastroenterologist for evaluation if your symptoms persist despite those steps.
Doctor :   Do you have any other query?
User :   just to ask, u are not worried that it may be lung cancer are u at all??
Doctor :   Your symptoms are too short to think of lung cancer.
Doctor :   And moreover absence of other associated symptoms especially loss of appetite and loss of weight are not consistent with
Doctor :   the features of a cancer.
Doctor :   Hence you need not worry.
User :   ok
Doctor :   But continuing the cigarettes may lead to a lung cancer in the future.
User :   yes I understand
Doctor :   So my sincere advice to you is that you cut short smoking when you still have time.
Doctor :   Do you have any more queries?
User :   no
User :   thank u so much
Doctor :   Thanks for consulting me.
Doctor :   Bye for now.
User :   have a good day
User :   bye bye
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