Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Productive Coughs
A productive cough helps clear mucus (sputum) and foreign material
from the airways. Mucus may be made in the lungs because of
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Colds and allergies may produce mucus that drains down the back of
the throat (postnasal drainage). Home treatment may be all that is
needed to provide relief if you have a productive cough and postnasal drainage
but do not have other symptoms.
A productive cough in a person who smokes is often a sign of lung
damage. For smokers, the most effective way to treat a cough is to stop
smoking. A change in the cough or in the color or quantity of sputum may
mean a bacterial lung infection.
A productive cough is a more serious when:
A doctor can evaluate your symptoms and recommend
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Current as ofAugust 21, 2015
Current as of:
August 21, 2015
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.