5 Warning Signs a Cough May Be Something More Serious

There are around 829 million doctor visits a year, and experts say that concern over a cough accounts for 30 million of those visits. That’s because the average cough lasts two and a half weeks—it lingers and lingers until you start to worry that it’s a sign of something more serious. For most coughs, the cure is time, over-the-counter cough suppressants and expectorants and home remedies like warm fluids and hot showers.

That said, there are several warning signs that tell you when a chronic cough might require a trip to your doctor. If your hacking is accompanied by any of the following health symptoms, make an appointment:

  • Trouble breathing: Having a hard time breathing could be a sign of a deeper issue in your lungs.
  • Chest pain: Pain in your chest could be an indicator of other health issues like bronchitis.
  • Chronic heartburn: When this accompanies a cough, you might need to treat the heartburn in order to get rid of the cough. GERD, a more serious form of acid reflux, accounts for up to 40 percent of common coughs.
  • Fever or night sweats: These symptoms could mean that you have a more serious infection and that could need an antibiotic to help relieve your common cold.
  • Trouble sleeping: If you’re having problems sleeping through the night or have a hard time getting comfortable enough to fall asleep, consult a doctor for a more thorough diagnosis.

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Photo credit: Lindsey Turner

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