Prolonged Cough Post-COVID – Should I Be Concerned About Lung Cancer?


Patient Education

Prolonged Cough Post-COVID - Should I Be Concerned About Lung Cancer?

Experiencing a lingering cough after recovering from COVID-19? A post-COVID cough could simply be the residual effects of the illness, or it may signify something more serious such as lung cancer. In this article, OncoCare, a leading cancer centre in Singapore, discusses why individuals experience a post-COVID cough, how to recognise signs and symptoms associated with lung cancer, as well as address any risk factors related to prolonged coughing post-COVID that should not go unchecked.

Why Do I Experience A Post-Covid Cough?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide, leaving many with a lingering post-COVID cough even after recovering from the virus. While most cases of cough are acute and will subside within a few weeks, some individuals can develop a chronic cough, which lasts for more than eight weeks. Factors such as the initial severity of the infection and the duration of the cough contribute to how long it will last, with some individuals experiencing symptoms for weeks, while others may suffer for months or up to a year. The prevalence of a persistent cough after COVID-19 infection can vary, but statistics show that around 20-25% of symptomatic patients experienced symptoms of cough after its initial onset (Fernández-de-las-Peñas et al., 2021).

Post-COVID cough may be attributed to one of four potential inflammation-related reasons. These include postnasal drip, lower airway and lung infection, neuronal mechanisms of hypersensitivity, and interstitial lung disease ( Yates , 2023).

Postnasal drip results from the continued inflammation of nasal passages and sinuses, which produces fluid that drips down the throat and stimulates the cough reflex ( Yates , 2023).

Lower airway and lung infections are caused by swollen tissues that trigger the cough reflex to clear fluid in the lower respiratory tract ( Yates , 2023).

Additionally, the virus may cause inflammation of neural tissues in the brain and/or nerves, leading to hypersensitivity and the triggering of the cough reflex. Lastly, interstitial lung disease, which occurs when lung tissue is scarred or injured from inflammation, is a severe condition that requires medical attention ( Yates , 2023).

Signs And Symptoms Of Lung Cancer

Although a prolonged cough may be a cause for concern, those suffering from a post-COVID cough do not need to be alarmed. Instead, they should focus on their recovery and check if they have other lung cancer symptoms such as:

  • persistent coughing that deteriorates or fails to subside
  • chest discomfort
  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • hemoptysis, or coughing up blood
  • consistent fatigue
  • unintended weight loss

However, it is crucial to consult with a lung cancer specialist in Singapore such as OncoCare if more than one of these symptoms are experienced. This is especially for individuals with a history of smoking or exposure to lung cancer risk factors such as frequent exposure to secondhand smoke, radon as well as asbestos, residing near an area with bad air pollution or a family history of lung cancer. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the prognosis and quality of life for individuals diagnosed with lung cancer.

Get The Help You Need From OncoCare

Dealing with symptoms of lung cancer can be an overwhelming experience, and looking for medical professionals well-versed in specialised care and treatments such as lung carcinoma treatment is crucial in your journey towards better health. This is where OncoCare comes in - our compassionate team of lung cancer specialists and doctors in Singapore are here to support you every step of the way. We understand how stressful it can be to face an uncertain situation like this, which is why we are committed to providing personalised care that is tailored to meet your specific needs. Let us help you find the right path forward and schedule an appointment with us today. Your health and well-being are our top priority, and we are here to offer the support and guidance you need to overcome this challenge.

“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”

Written by:
Dr Tan Chee Seng
MBBS (Singapore)
MRCP (United Kingdom)


Fernández-de-las-Peñas, C., Palacios-Ceña, D., Gómez-Mayordomo, V., Florencio, L. L., Cuadrado, M. L., Plaza-Manzano, G., & Navarro-Santana, M. (2021). Prevalence of post-covid-19 symptoms in hospitalized and non-hospitalized COVID-19 survivors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 92, 55–70. doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2021.06.009

Yates,N. (2023). Retrieved from