Internal Medicine Doctors of
Mill Basin & Bergen Beach, Brooklyn

6301 Mill Lane (Corner of East 63rd) in Mill Basin (11234)


Dr. Bella Zimilevich

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD
Primary Care Doctor

Dr. Bella Zimilevich

Dr. Anatoly Pisman, M.D
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Considering A Doctor’s Appointment For Help Managing A Cough?

Posted by on August 7th, 2013

Dr. Bella Zimilevich, MD

“Cough is one of the most common reasons why people come to see me. Most coughs are not serious and are caused by a virus, but some coughs may be be caused by a bacteria and may require an antibiotic. It can be difficult for people to determine whether a cough is serious or not- this is where I come in. If your cough lingers for a long time after a cold, is accompanied by a fever or shortness of breath, you need to make an appointment to come in and see me in the clinic”.

-Dr. Zimilevich, MD

What is a cough?

A cough is a reflex, the purpose of which is to keep your lungs and airways clear. Coughs can be annoying if they are frequent or they keep you awake at night, but they are important to your body’s defense. In fact, people with weak coughs due to certain musculoskeletal problems often suffer from frequent pneumonia infections because they lack this simple ability to keep their airways clear of germs.

Acute versus chronic cough

Coughs may be acute, caused by a viral or bacterial illness such as the common cold or pneumonia and lasting a week or two, or chronic as in asthma and COPD. Chronic coughs lasting more than a couple of weeks may be caused by:

  • allergies
  • smoking
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • asthma
  • medications (i.e., certain blood pressure medications)
  • throat problems
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux)
  • CHF (congestive heart failure)
  • malignancy of the respiratory tract (i.e., lung cancer)

When should I be concerned about my cough?

Coughs associated with colds will most often go away on their own in a week or two. Sometimes the cough will linger for a short time after the cold symptoms have disappeared. Although the cough may be bothersome, it usually does not require any treatment. Using a cool mist humidifier, drinking plenty of water and/or sucking on cough drops or lozenges may soothe a lingering cough. Sometimes coughs are caused by post-nasal drip (nasal secretions traveling down the back of the throat).

There are certain instances when your cough should prompt you to come see me in the clinic. You should make an appointment if:

  • your cough changes in character (becomes deeper, more frequent or produces more sputum than previously)
  • you have fever asociated with your cough for more than a day or two
  • you have chest pain when you cough
  • you have blood in your sputum
  • your cough interferes with sleep or other activities
  • you have shortness of breath associated with your cough
  • your cough lingers long after other symptoms have gone away, or lasts longer than a couple of weeks
  • your cough is associated with weight loss, loss of appetite, night sweats or other unusual symptoms

What can I expect when I come to see you about my cough?

When you come in to the clinic to see me regarding your cough, I will first want to know a bit about your past medical history and any medications you are taking if I have not seen you before. I will need to know when the cough started, what other symptoms are associated with it (i.e., sore throat, cold symptoms, fever), whether your cough is productive (you are coughing up phlegm) and what makes your cough better or worse. I will also need to know if you are a smoker.

Once I have gathered some history about your cough I will examine you, which may include:

  • looking in your ears, nose and throat
  • listening to your chest with a stethoscope for abnormal breath/breathing sounds
  • obtaining your vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse, respirations and oxygen saturation)
  • feeling your head and neck for enlarged lymph glands
  • palpating your abdomen
  • listening to your heart

Based on what I find when I examine you, I may order diagnostic tests, which might include a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, blood tests to check for hydration status or signs of infection or inflammation, a sputum sample or pulmonary function testing. I may order other tests if warranted.

Once I have all of the information I need, I will base my treatment on what I believe is causing your cough. I will discuss any test results with you and explain any treatments I prescribe. You should feel free to ask me any questions- I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

If you are suffering from a cough that concerns you, make an appointment to come and see me in the clinic. I promise to take your symptoms seriously- that’s the Mill Basin difference.

Our Location

clinic map

6301 Mill Lane, Brooklyn, NY 11234.

(718) 942-4600


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