Tammy is a 33-year-old who presents for evaluation of a cough. She reports that about 3 weeks ago she developed a “really bad cold” with rhinorrhea. The cold seemed to go away but then she developed a profound, deep, mucus-producing cough. Now, there is no rhinorrhea or rhinitis—the primary problem is the cough. She develops these coughing fits that are prolonged, very deep, and productive of a lot of green sputum. She hasn’t had any fever but does have a scratchy throat. Tammy has tried over-the-counter cough medicines but has not had much relief. The cough keeps her awake at night and sometimes gets so bad that she gags and dry heaves.
Write a differential of at least three (3) possible diagnosis’s and explain how each may be a possible answer to the clinical presentation above. Remember, to list the differential in the order of most likely to less likely.
Based upon what you have at the top of the differential how would you treat this patient?
Suppose now, the patient has a fever of 100.4 and complains of foul smelling mucous and breath. Indeed, she complains of producing cups of mucous some days. She has some trouble breathing on moderate exertion but this is only a minor complaint to her. How does this change your differential and why?