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When Should You Worry About Your Cough

Coughs are one of the most common reasons patients come to urgent care.  While some coughs are benign and resolve on their own within a week or two, there are some red flags patients should be aware of, because they can indicate a more serious problem that requires further evaluation.

A cough with a fever

If you have a cough and a fever (a temperature > 100.4F), you could have influenza or pneumonia, both of which require rapid medical intervention to prevent serious complications.  So, a cough with a true fever should prompt you to schedule a same-day appointment for further evaluation. 

 If you do have pneumonia, the earlier you start on an antibiotic, the less likely you are to develop serious issues like dehydration, respiratory distress and sepsis. 

If you have influenza, starting on the antiviral medication Tamiflu can shorten the duration of your illness and decrease the risk of secondary bacterial infections and other complications.

A cough that lasts more than three weeks

Up to 95% of coughs are viral, which means they resolve on their own within 10-14 days without any intervention.  However, if you have a cough that hasn’t resolved within three weeks of onset, it’s wise to seek medical attention and have a thorough evaluation to make sure there’s no potentially serious underlying condition.

A cough accompanied by systemic symptoms

Benign coughs shouldn’t be affecting any other part of your body.  If you have a cough with systemic symptoms (fatigue, fever, weight loss, night sweats, dizziness), it’s wise to have a medical evaluation because coughs with systemic symptoms can indicate a serious diagnosis, such as HIV, tuberculosis or a malignancy.

At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re here seven days a week to care for you!  We have digital X-ray machines and rapid flu tests at all of our locations.  If you have a concerning cough, don’t put off getting the care you need.  We offer an easy check-in process and short wait times. Just walk-in or save your spot online. Select your location below to find the urgent care center nearest you.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2278319/

https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?sectionid=61697703&bookid=1088

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cough

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