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Diagnosing Your Cough: When to Seek Urgent Care

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Diagnosing Your Cough: When to Seek Urgent Care

Since the pandemic, coughing and sneezing in public has become taboo. The moment you feel that tickling in your throat, you may start to worry. Is this just allergies? Perhaps a cold or something worse?

In most cases, a cough is nothing to worry about. It is simply the body’s way of expelling an irritant, such as dust or smoke. In other instances, it could signal a more severe condition, like pneumonia or bronchitis. To know for sure whether your cough is cause for concern depends on a variety of factors — the type of cough, how long you’ve been coughing, and whether you have other symptoms.

Types of Coughs

There are four primary types of coughs: wet, dry, whooping and chronic.

Wet Cough: A wet cough is also called a productive cough because it brings up mucus or phlegm. This cough usually comes with a cold, the flu or bronchitis.

Dry Cough: Conversely, a dry cough doesn’t bring up mucus. It can be caused by allergies, the common cold or even acid reflux. Sometimes a dry cough can even signify something more serious, like asthma or lung cancer.

Whooping Cough: Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It’s most often seen in babies and toddlers, but can occur at any age. This type of cough is characterized by a “whooping” sound when you breathe in. Whooping cough can be serious, especially in infants and young children. It can even be deadly.

Chronic Cough: A chronic cough typically lasts more than eight weeks. It can be caused by allergies, asthma, smoking or even acid reflux.

How Long You’ve Been Coughing

The duration of your cough is also a critical factor in determining whether it’s cause for concern. A cough that lasts for a couple of days is usually nothing to worry about. It’s likely due to allergies, a cold or the flu. However, if your cough continues for more than two weeks, it could signify something more serious.

Other Symptoms

When determining whether your cough is cause for concern, your doctor will also ask about other symptoms you may be experiencing. These can include:

  • Body aches
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

When to Seek Urgent Care

Knowing when to seek urgent care for your cough can be tricky. You should see a doctor immediately if you experience shortness of breath, wheezing or chest pain with your cough. And if you have body aches and fever, and your cough lasts more than two weeks, it’s also best to get medical attention.

Being proactive about your respiratory health is always a good idea. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s better to exercise caution and see a doctor. The doctor can ask you the right questions to effectively diagnose your cough and recommend the best treatment course.

Find Relief with UF Health Jacksonville

At UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center, our board-certified providers can diagnose and treat your cough.

UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center

UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Centers offer a straightforward premise: deliver emergency services while providing extraordinary customer experience and only billing for the care you need. We provide urgent care and emergency care the way it should be — under one roof.

At UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Centers, our primary goal is to provide the residents of Northeast Florida with exceptional service and the proper billing for the care they need. Our combined emergency room and urgent care is fully equipped to handle everything from allergies to chest pain with on-site labs, X-ray, ultrasound and CT.

The ER and urgent care center are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No appointment is necessary — just walk in!

Find the UF Health Emergency & Urgent Care Center in Jacksonville near you at