How to see a doctor about your cough

Your body uses a cough reflex to clear your airways and protect your lungs against infection and foreign material.

Many irritants can cause coughs. Some common examples include:

  • pollen
  • smoke
  • Infections

Although occasional coughing can be normal, it is possible to have a more serious condition. It is important to know when to see a doctor if you have a cough.

Causes of cough

There are several types of coughs. The duration of the cough determines them.

  • Acute and severe cough. Short-term coughs. Lasts less than three weeks. A cough may last between 3-8 weeks in some cases (e.g., following a respiratory infection). This is a subacute or chronic cough.
  • Chronic cough. When a cough lasts more than 8 weeks, it is considered chronic.

You can get acute coughs from:

  • Environmental irritants like smoke, dust, and fumes
  • Allergens such as pollen, pet hair, and mold
  • Upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold or the flu can occur in the upper respiratory tract.
  • Lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Exacerbations due to a chronic condition such as asthma
  • More serious conditions include pulmonary embolism.

Chronic coughs can be caused:

  • Smoking
  • Chronic respiratory conditions such as chronic asthma and chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • postnasal drip
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, a type of blood pressure medication
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Heart disease
  • lung cancer

You can also classify coughs as either productive or ineffective.

  • Productive cough. It is also known as wet or dry cough.
  • Nonproductive cough. It is also known as a dry cough.

What did you need to know about a cough?

Cough is a common sign of COVID-19. The new coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2 cause this illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19’s incubation time can range from 2 to 14 days, with an average of 4 days to 5 days.

COVID-19-related coughs are usually dry. The CDC says that some people can have a wet cough.

You may be able to take cough medicine or other home remedies if you have a mild case of COVID-19.

Other possible symptoms for COVID-19 include a cough.

  • fever
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • Body aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • digestive symptoms like nauseavomiting, or diarrhea
  • Loss of smelltaste

How to get medical attention for a cold

Acute coughs caused by allergens or irritants will typically resolve in a matter of weeks.

It’s always a good idea for you to see your doctor if the symptoms persist beyond 3 weeks, or if they occur with any of these other symptoms:

  • Fièvre
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Thick mucus in yellow color.
  • nightwear
  • Unexplained Weight Loss

If you have a cough, get emergency medical attention.

  • Trouble breathing
  • coughing up blood
  • High fever
  • Chest Pain
  • There is confusion
  • fainting

Home remedies

You can do some things at your home to ease mild symptoms of a cough. Here are some remedies:

  • OTC cough medications. An OTC expectorant such as Mucinex can help loosen the mucus in your lungs. An antitussive medication like Robitussin can also suppress the cough reflex. These medications should not be given to children younger than 6 years.
  • Use cough drops or throat lozenges to relieve a sore throat or cough. These can pose a danger to children’s health if they are young.
  • Warm beverages. Broths or teas can thin mucus and relieve irritation. Warm water tea with lemon or honey can also be helpful. Children under one year old should not be given honey due to the possibility of infant Botulism.
  • Add moisture to the air. This may help soothe a sore throat from coughing. Use a humidifier, or take a warm, steamy bath.
  • Avoid aggravating environmental factors. Stay away from anything that can irritate you. These include dust, cigarette smoke and chemical fumes.

These home remedies are only for mild cases of cough. You should seek medical attention if you have a persistent cough or other concerns.

Other Treatments

Your doctor will usually treat your cough by treating the root cause. Here are some examples of treatment:

  • antihistamines and decongestants to treat allergies and postnasal drip
  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infections
  • Inhaled bronchodilators and corticosteroids to treat COPD or asthma
  • For GERD, medications such as proton pump inhibitors
  • A different type of blood pressure medication can replace ACE inhibitors

Some medications, such as benzonatate, may be used to reduce the coughing reflex.

The bottom line

Coughs can be acute or chronic and are quite common. Some coughs produce mucus, while others don’t.

Many factors can trigger a cough. You can get a cough from environmental irritants, respiratory infections or chronic conditions like asthma and COPD.

COVID-19 is also known for a cough.

A home care program can help ease the symptoms of a common cold. Sometimes, however, a doctor is required to evaluate a cough.

If your cough persists for more than three weeks, or if you have symptoms such as:

  • Fièvre
  • Mucus discoloration
  • Breathing difficulty

You may experience some symptoms that could indicate a medical emergency. Get immediate medical attention if you have a severe cough or any combination thereof.

  • Trouble breathing
  • High fever
  • Coughing up blood

 

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