Coughs are our spontaneous reflex to foreign matter from our throats and airways. Like blinking, sneezing, and other involuntary movements, it’s among our body’s essential protective mechanisms against pathogens.
Although most coughs clear up in a few weeks, even without treatment, those that don’t go away or are accompanied by other symptoms such as excess mucus and shortness of breath may signify a more severe medical problem.
As the leading urgent care experts who continually diagnose and treat patients with coughs daily at our walk-in clinic in Brandford, Connecticut, our team at Docs Urgent Care – Branford has placed together a quick and helpful guide on coughs. Read on to see the differences between acute and chronic coughs — and when to see a doctor for them!
Occasional coughs are normal bodily functions and can happen to anyone. After all, our throats and airways are incredibly sensitive to foreign particles, and they seek to dispel them fast. And these are often at speeds of over 50 miles per hour — via coughing. It’s an instant reaction that’s disruptive but works well!
However, although occasional coughs help clear our sinuses from irritants in our throats and airways, a lingering cough is often a sign of ongoing irritation from allergens, pollutants, or illnesses.
We categorize ongoing coughs depending on their sound and when they happen. For instance, some coughs can be “barky,” resembling a dog’s bark, while others come with wheezing. Regardless of the specific attributes, coughs will fall into two categories:
Short-term or acute coughs might last for a couple of days or weeks but won’t last over three weeks. Many infection-related coughs fall into this category, and common causes include the following:
Depending on the cause behind the short-term cough, it might persist and develop into a long-term cough.
Chronic or long-term coughs last longer, often between 3 and 4 weeks, and often come from these causes:
Long-term coughs can signify a more severe medical condition, such as heart failure, tuberculosis, and lung cancer.
If you’re experiencing a mild cough, you can do a few things at home to ease your symptoms, including the following:
Note that these home remedies only work for milder coughs. And it might not work for persistent or chronic coughing with other symptoms. If that’s the case, seek professional medical attention ASAP.
Usually, medical care involves having a doctor look down your throat, listen to your cough, and ask about other symptoms you might be experiencing.
If your cough roots from bacterial infection, your doctor will likely prescribe oral antibiotics. And often, you’ll need to take these for an entire week or more to cure the cough 100%. Moreover, doctors may also prescribe expectorant cough syrups and suppressants with codeine.
But if your doctor can’t determine the cause of your coughing, they might order lab tests, including:
Although it’s rare for coughs to be the only recognizable symptom of heart issues, doctors can still request an echocardiogram, ensuring your heart is working well and not causing your coughs.
Meanwhile, complex coughing cases may ask for additional tests, including:
In coughing cases where previous treatments aren’t possible or unlikely to be successful, doctors expect them to resolve without intervention. But some doctors prescribe cough suppressants.
As you can tell, several types of coughs can develop for various reasons. Therefore, it can be challenging to know when you must worry about a “cough” or when typical “coughs” are when it needs professional treatment.
In short, you should see urgent care clinics in Branford, CT, anytime you or a loved one has an unusual cough. And this includes:
When you experience persistent and long-term coughs (over three weeks), seek medical attention ASAP. Even when your cough is dry and non-productive, it’s crucial to have it checked by a professional.
Although short-term and acute coughs are harmless and clear up without intervention, those accompanied by other symptoms must be checked by a professional ASAP:
Coughs accompanied by other symptoms, like chills, vomiting, and body ache, should be assessed with COVID-19 or flu tests.
Although many short-term or acute coughs need little more than rest and fluids, concerning coughs, ask for prompt evaluation. After all, it might be a symptom of a more severe illness benefitting from immediate medical care, including antiviral medication for the flu or COVID-19, signifying undiagnosed conditions requiring established treatment plans, including asthma and allergies.
Once the cause behind your cough has been determined, urgent care facilities in Branford, CT, will offer recommendations and treatments to help you feel better and cure your cough faster.
Here are a few frequently asked questions about when to see a doctor to address your coughs:
A: Acute coughs caused by infections or irritants will often improve within three weeks. Meanwhile, chronic coughs usually last longer than eight weeks for adults and four weeks for kids.
A: Wet coughs bring up mucus from your lungs, while dry coughs don’t. The former might be a symptom of an infection, and the latter often comes from irritation.
A: Phlegm refers to the thick mucus we cough up, which often lasts as long as the underlying medical condition. For instance, the phlegm least for one to two weeks if you have a cold. Meanwhile, bronchitis can take a few weeks to several months for the mucus to disappear.
A: Coughs without other symptoms aren’t a cause of concern. Still, it can signify a severe condition like pneumonia or bronchitis. But if you have coughs with other concerning symptoms, such as chest tightness and fever, seek medical attention ASAP.
Anyone can get a cough, but it’s crucial to know when it’s time to see a doctor for a quick remedy. If you suspect your cough has severe underlying causes, don’t hesitate to call Docs Urgent Care – Branford, the leading urgent care Branford facility. With their assistance, you’ll be able to get the proper diagnosis and treatment ASAP.
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