See the Signs

Persistent Cough

You should seek the advice of your GP if you are experiencing any of the following: a persistent cough which lasts more than three weeks, coughing up mucus, phlegm or blood, pain or fainting caused by coughing bouts, trouble sleeping at night because of coughing or if your coughing is coupled with a worrying symptom such as breathlessness, chest pain or fatigue.


Breathlessness is a common symptom of lung disease, however many people put breathlessness down to ageing, being overweight or unfit. However, unexplained breathlessness needs to be addressed. You should visit your doctor if you experience any shortness of breath that is not expected from an activity and the current state of your fitness or health as it could indicate you have a problem with your lungs.


Fatigue, is an excessive persistent feeling of tiredness that may not be alleviated by sleep or rest. It can affect the way you think, including poor concentration and memory loss, as well as make you feel more emotional than usual. Fatigue can also affect your ability to do everyday tasks such as taking a shower or making your dinner. If you are feeling fatigued, it is important to let your health professional know so that the cause can be investigated.

What is a cough?

Coughing is a necessary part of our body’s normal cleaning routine for the lungs. We cough to clear unwanted mucus or phlegm from our airways, and to remove any foreign particles such as dust. The most common cause of a cough is a viral upper respiratory tract infection or cold. Usually, the cough caused by a cold clears up within three weeks. When coughing lasts longer than this, it may be considered a persistent cough and you should make an appointment with your GP to investigate. 

When should I see a doctor for my cough? 

It’s hard to know if a cough is trying to tell you something “It’s probably nothing”, we tell ourselves. But paying attention to that cough might just save your life. Coughing becomes a problem when it:  

  • is unexplained and persistent (for more than three weeks)  
  • is accompanied by other symptoms such as breathlessness  
  • results in complications such as pain, fatigue and trouble sleeping.  

Coughing can be the sign of an underlying medical condition, such as lung cancer or lung disease. It’s important to see your GP to find out why you’re coughing. Early detection is best, so why risk it? Learn all the warning signs of lung disease and lung cancer by completing our Lung Health Checklist above. 

Lung Health Tips

Commit to quit

Making your life a smoke-free zone is one the best things you can do for your overall health, including your lungs. There are immediate benefits to quitting smoking at any age. We understand quitting can be hard, but you don’t have to go it alone. Find out how to get the help you need to quit for good.

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Prevention is your best protection

Vaccination is your best defence against respiratory infections like influenza, pneumonia and COVID-19. We know infection rates tend to rise throughout winter, so making the time to get vaccinated ahead of the colder months can help protect you and your loved ones.

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Protecting your lungs at work

Exposure to dust, gas and fumes can be harmful to your lungs. The nature of your work could put you at risk of exposure to occupational lung diseases. Even a single exposure can damage the lungs. There are steps you and your employer can take to protect you.

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Lifestyle matters

There’s little doubt you’ve heard it time and time again – a healthy diet and regular exercise are the key to looking after your overall health and wellbeing. Your lungs are no exception. Being physically active and having a healthy diet can help keep your lungs healthy.

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This campaign is supported by AstraZeneca.

Donate today

No one should face lung disease alone. Our services and programs connect Australians with lung disease, and their loved ones, with life-changing support. You can help ensure every Australia gets the support they deserve.

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