Colds and allergies may produce mucus that drains down the back of the throat (post-nasal drainage). Home treatment may be all that is needed to provide relief if you have a productive cough and post-nasal 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 colour or quantity of sputum may mean a bacterial lung infection.
A productive cough is a more serious when:
It produces sputum from the lungs (not post-nasal drainage).
The sputum is rust-coloured or contains bright red blood.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, BSc, MD, FRCPC, FCCP - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine