Coughs are a common ailment, and something millions of people suffer from each winter. But could a prolonged cough be a sign of something more serious?
Most coughs clear up within three weeks and require little treatment, but a prolonged cough definitely shouldn’t be ignored.
Professor Alyn Morice, cough expert and Head of Cardiorespiratory Studies at Hull York Medical School explains how coughs fall into two categories, acute and chronic.
Acute coughs are the short-term ones, and typically should last up to three weeks. Whereas chronic coughs are persistent, usually something to do with asthma or bronchitis.
If you find your cough lasts longer than eight weeks, it's definitely something you should speak to your doctor about.
If you're coughing up blood, there's a wheezing feeling in your chest, or you're losing weight, these are further signs you should seek out medical advice too.
Got a cough and unsure what it’s telling you? Here’s a list of both acute and chronic coughs - including the symptoms to look out for and how to treat them.
Table of Contents
The chesty cough is caused by mucus in the chest, usually in excessive amount. Phlegm is being created to help clear your airways, and your body will naturally cause you to cough it up to get rid of it.
You can typically help treat a chesty cough with a cough mixture, like the Covonia Chesty Cough Mixture Mentholated.
Dry and tickly cough
A dry and tickly cough is typically caused by irritation, it tickles the throat and the cough is triggered in a bid to relieve the irritation.
You'll want to treat your dry and tickly cough with a demulcent, which helps to coat the throat and soothe the passage.
You're likely to get a lingering cough when you've had the cold or flu because the throat will be inflamed. It's likely your throat will feel irritated, and you'll want a cough syrup to help treat it.
You're likely to get Whooping Cough a week after infection, you'll first start with cold-like symptoms, but in the end, you'll get severe coughing fits where you bring up thick phlegm.
Vaccination is the key to preventing whooping cough, but if you do happen to get it, you'll be treated with antibiotics.
If you have a hacking cough that brings up yellow-grey phlegm, you're likely to have Bronchitis, an infection of the large airways and lungs.
Bed rest is suggested to help you through Bronchitis, as well as plenty of fluids. You might also need some paracetamol to help treat the pains.
If you have asthma it's likely that your coughs are wheezing, and you'll get a shortness of breath. But you can also get a tight chest and cough. If you have asthma you'll need to see your doctor where either bronchodilators or anti-inflammatory inhaled steroids are prescribed.
Your immune system will cause an allergy cough, to fight against things like pollen, dust or pet hair, your body will release histamine. Depending on the severity of the allergy you're likely to need antihistamines to help reduce the symptoms.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
The main cause is smoking and the longer you smoke, the increased risk of this disease. Damage to the lungs can't be reversed, but the best thing you can do is to stop smoking.
You might get a dry cough from Medication ACE inhibitors which are used to treat high blood pressure, as they make the nerves in the lungs more sensitive.