ZOOM+Care DIY Health Articles

Symptoms, causes, and treatments for Coughs

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Symptoms of a Cough

Numerous underlying causes of coughs make them difficult to self-diagnose. Doctors examine your specific type of cough and classify it using the following terms:

  • Acute (less than three weeks)
  • Subacute (three to eight weeks)
  • Chronic (longer than eight weeks)
  • Productive (producing phlegm)
  • Non-Productive (dry)

Causes of an Cough

We all cough throughout the day, sometimes to the annoyance of our coworkers, and who hasn’t had a bad cough from the cold or flu? Thankfully, a majority of coughs clear up within a couple weeks. But if yours continues, you’ll want to schedule a visit to determine its source.

Common reasons for coughing:

  • Asthma
  • Bacterial infections (pneumonia, whooping cough)
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Prescription side effects
  • Smoking

Should I Be Worried?

A cough alone doesn’t always signal a more serious illness. But if after two weeks your cough interferes with your job or daily routine, schedule a visit and talk to a doctor.

You should seek immediate medical attention if at any point your coughing produces blood or makes breathing difficult.

The following symptoms also help indicate if your cough is severe enough to see a doctor:

  • Breathing troubles
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Coughing up blood
  • Drowsiness
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Trouble sleeping

Schedule a cough visit online or from our iOS app today.

Find a neighborhood ZOOM+Care clinic near you in Portland, Seattle, Salem, or Vancouver.

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Cough Prevention Tips

It's impossible to stop normal, daily coughs, but consider these tips to help soothe chronic and illness-related coughing:

  • Stock up on losenges. Losenges ease chronic cough irritation by coating your throat.
  • Stay hydrated. Warm drinks can offer relief generally, while all liquids help thin the collected mucus in your throat.
  • Put down the cigarette. Tobacco smoke irritates throats and lungs and will trigger more coughing.