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What Are the Signs of a Chronic Cough?

signs of a chronic cough

During the height of the pandemic, the mere sound of a cough could create anxiety. If you had a dry cough you likely suspected that you had COVID-19. If someone around you began coughing you may have instinctively backed up a few feet. 

Now that we have largely returned to our pre-COVID era routines how do you know when a cough is something to be concerned about? A cold, flu, allergies, pneumonia, and coronavirus are just a handful of conditions that can cause a cough. 

Typically as the seasons change or we get over a cold, a cough will subside. But what if your cough lingers for weeks, disrupting your sleep and day-to-day activities?

What is a Chronic Cough?

A cough lasting three weeks or less is considered acute. Coughs that are persistent for eight or more weeks in adults (and four weeks in children) are considered chronic.

Here are other signs of a chronic cough:

  • Present around the clock (days and evenings and likely disrupting sleep)
  • Not contagious
  • Minimally productive
  • May accompany a runny or stuffy nose, post-nasal drip
  • Hoarseness
  • Heartburn
  • Frequent throat clearing

How Do I Know When to See a Doctor for a Chronic Cough?

If your cough doesn’t resolve after eight weeks, it may be time to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist to determine the cause of your chronic cough and treat it.

Other signs that it’s time to make an appointment with a physician regarding your chronic cough include:

  • Coughing up blood 
  • A fever above 100.4°F
  • Making a “whoop” sound while coughing
  • Wheezing with your cough
  • Have regular acid reflux or a cough that is disrupting sleep
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling or lumps in your neck

Depending on the source of the cough, the treatment may be as simple as prescribing a steroid or antibiotic or weaning you off of a medication that may be contributing to it. In other cases, you may need an endoscopic or pulmonary exam to diagnose the cause of your chronic cough.

Is it Time to See an ENT?

If you have a persistent cough and at-home remedies aren’t giving you relief, it may be time to make an appointment to get evaluated. Dr. Rande Lazar and his team at ENT Memphis serve the Mid-South in two locations in Memphis and Barlett. Visit our website to make an appointment or for more information.

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