What to do if you have a persistent cough
Most coughs go away within a few weeks but some persist for longer, making everyday life a little more difficult. A cough that just won’t budge might not be anything serious but don’t diagnose yourself, see your doctor if you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more.
Causes of persistent (chronic) cough
Whereas a short-term cough may be commonly caused by cold or flu and can go away within three weeks or less, a persistent cough lasts much longer and can have a big impact on daily life. The most common causes are:
• Smoking – a smoker’s cough can be a symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
• Lung conditions such as bronchiectasis
• Prescribed medications
• A long-term infection such as bronchitis
• Post nasal drip caused by sinusitis
• Stomach acid irritating the throat from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
It’s important to see your GP, especially if you experience the following:
• Your cough has lasted longer than three weeks
• The symptoms are severe
• Your cough shows no sign of improvement
• You cough up blood or have difficulty breathing
Although rare, chronic coughs can be a sign of something more serious. Do not delay and make an appointment to see your doctor.