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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 19435
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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My 14 year old daughter has had a persistent cough since December.

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My 14 year old daughter has had a persistent cough since December. It is getting worse. The coughing fits are just 2 or 3 every 24 hours but the coughs are deep, long and produce yellowy phlegm. Could this be caused by treating insects in her bedroom? Could they be caused by her never opening her windows?
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The prescriptions by her doctors are appropriate for the most common cause of cough. The most common cause of cough of short duration is an infection and the most common cause of cough of long duration is allergies. Of course, whenever someone has cough of a couple months duration, there is a point at which it must have only been present for a few days, so some people with a cough of short duration will have allergies.

Since this has been a problem for a couple months now, an allergy would be the most likely cause. However, it is impossible to know from the symptoms what is causing the allergy unless it can be identified as happening with any particular exposure. It is possible that it could be an allergy related to the treatment of the insects in her room. Whether the window being closed has a role is more related to whether it is from indoor allergens, but it is usually a larger issue than solely whether the window is open. When people are allergic to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, they tend to have more symptoms during the winter, and while closed windows is keeping fresh air out of the house, there are other factors, such as the person being indoors more hours of the day because of the winter weather and using heating systems that tend to recirculate the indoor allergens.

At this point, if the antihistamines are sufficient to control symptoms, then no further evaluation or treatment is necessary. Some people with persistent allergies will do very well with steroids, which are available as nasal sprays and inhalers. Persistent symptoms may require allergy testing.

If you have any further questions, please let me know.

I do not see that you have received or reviewed the answer that I provided above. Sometimes, the notification system fails, so I am placing another post to prompt the system to send another notification. My answer is as above. If you have any further questions, please let me know.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Is the yellowy mucous of any significance? This coughing sounds and looks horrendous! Is she OK to continue going to school or should she be kept away? Should she continue swimming and running competitively?

I am sorry for the delay, but I stepped away from the computer when I had not heard back from you for a while.

The colour of the mucous is not really of significance, as either infectious or non-infectious conditions can cause the mucous to be yellow. It is more common for an infection to cause the mucous to be yellow, but either type of condition can do so.

At this point, since it is apparently not infectious, there is no problem with attending school from the perspective of infecting her peers. From the perspective of activity level, including school, swimming, and running, it is completely dependent upon how she feels. If she otherwise feels OK, then the fact that she is coughing, by itself, is not a reason to avoid activities. If she otherwise feels bad, weak, or short of breath, or the activity significantly exacerbates the cough, then it would be appropriate to limit activities. And this analysis can vary according to the activity. If she tolerates swimming fine, but the running causes problems, then she can continue to swim while limiting running.

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