When should I worry about a cough that doesn’t go away?

Could it be a sign of something serious?

12/03/19
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If you’re fighting a cough, you’re not alone. A cough is one of the most common reasons for physician visits. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out why you can’t shake it.

Any cough that lasts less than three weeks is considered acute or short term. These coughs often follow a cold, bronchitis or sinus infection and usually go away on their own. They don’t usually require a physician’s visit. But if your cough lasts eight weeks or longer, it’s chronic and may need an evaluation.

Common causes of a cough include:

  • Postnasal drip, where mucus drips down the throat from chronic sinus problems or allergies
  • Acid reflux, a condition that causes stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus
  • ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems – cough is sometimes a side effect
  • Asthma
  • Smoking

Most coughs are not a sign of a serious illness but talk with your physician if a cough lasts eight weeks or longer. To connect with a primary care physician in your area, visit chimemorialmedicalgroup.org.