Read below about coughing up a little fluid, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your coughing up a little fluid from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

This symptom can also be referred to as:
Wet cough
Purulent cough
Productive cough

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Coughing Up a Little Fluid

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced coughing up a little fluid. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Bronchitis

    Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs. It causes a cough that often brings up mucus, as well as shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. It is typically caused by a virus.

    Symptoms resolve within 1-2 weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    cough, productive cough, sore throat, wheezing, coughing up green or yellow phlegm
    Symptoms that always occur with bronchitis:
    cough
    Symptoms that never occur with bronchitis:
    nausea or vomiting
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Acute Bacterial Sinusitis

    Acute bacterial sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become infected and, in turn, inflamed, which causes pain and other symptoms. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the face that are generally clean and empty but when they're sick collect excess mucus and can become infected. When your symptoms are persisting for 10 days or more or are getting worse over time, it's more likely that you'll have a bacterial infection as compared to a viral infection.

    7-15 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    clear runny nose, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Influenza

    Influenza, or Flu, is an infection of the airway caused by the flu virus, which passes through the air and enters the body through the nose or mouth. The symptoms are similar to those of a cold, but the flu is usually more serious.

    Most recover within 1 week but cough and malaise can persist for 2 weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, cough, muscle aches
    Symptoms that never occur with influenza:
    headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  4. 4.Bacterial Pneumonia

    Bacterial pneumonia is the infection of the lungs with bacteria (as opposed to a fungus or a virus).

    1-3 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, cough, headache, loss of appetite, shortness of breath
    Symptoms that always occur with bacterial pneumonia:
    cough
    Urgency:
    In-person visit

    Coughing Up a Little Fluid Checker

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  5. 5.Smoking - Induced Cough

    The airways are lined with tiny cells called cilia, whose function is to catch toxins in air that is inhaled and push them up towards the mouth. When smoke is inhaled, the cilia are paralyzed for a short while, so toxins are allowed to enter the lungs and create inflammation. During the night, the cilia repair themselves and begin to push up all the accumulated mucus and toxins, causing an increase in cough in the morning.

    Coughing will diminish within 3 months of quitting smoking.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    cough
    Symptoms that always occur with smoking-induced cough:
    cough
    Symptoms that never occur with smoking-induced cough:
    fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  6. 6.Sarcoidosis

    Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that most often affects the lungs and skin, but can als affect the joints.

    This condition has a broad range of severity. It often goes away on its own over time but some cases can cause permanent damage.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, joint pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (Copd)

    COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a chronic condition of the lungs and the airways in the lungs. Damage has occured due to long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs, such as cigarette smoke or air pollution. This damage can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, decreased exercise tolerance and cough. A common cold or other types of infection can cause symptoms to worden acutely, this is called an exacerbation.

    Often a lifelong condition

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, cough and dyspnea related to smoking, cough, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd):
    cough and dyspnea related to smoking
    Symptoms that never occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd):
    rectal bleeding
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Viral Pneumonia

    Viral pneumonia is inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the lungs due to infection with a virus. Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type, which is usually acquired in public areas such as at work, school, or grocery store.

    Symptoms begin to improve within a few days.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Pulmonary Fibrosis

    Tissue deep in the lungs becomes scarred over time. This tissue gets thick and stiff, making it hard to catch a breath and for the body to receive enough oxygen.

    Long-term progressive disease, may persist for years.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    dry cough, shortness of breath, fingers looking plump
    Symptoms that always occur with pulmonary fibrosis:
    dry cough
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Coughing Up a Little Fluid

  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you currently smoke?
  • Q.Do you have a sore throat?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our coughing up a little fluid symptom checker to find out more.

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Coughing Up a Little Fluid Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced coughing up a little fluid have also experienced:

    • 12% Productive Cough
    • 12% Cough
    • 6% Dry Cough
  • People who have experienced coughing up a little fluid had symptoms persist for:

    • 32% Less Than a Week
    • 23% Two Weeks to a Month
    • 18% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced coughing up a little fluid were most often matched with:

    • 57% Acute Bacterial Sinusitis
    • 28% Influenza
    • 14% Bronchitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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