There is usually no need to see a family doctor if you have a cough. In this case, the recommended thing is to rest, drink plenty of fluids and stay at home if possible, avoiding contact with other people if you have a high temperature or don’t feel well. But when should coughing be viewed with concern? When to look for an expert?
If you have had a persistent cough (that is, it has lasted for more than 3 weeks), it is a sign that something is wrong. It is worth consulting a doctor. If you notice that the rhythm increases rapidly and is incessant, it could also indicate the need to seek specialist care.
You also cannot ignore if, in addition to coughing, you are experiencing chest pain. If the side of the neck is swollen and painful (i.e. if the glands are swollen) it also means it’s time to seek help. This also applies if you are having trouble breathing.
There are some special cases where you need to see a doctor. For example, if you have a weakened immune system from chemotherapy or diabetes, any cough is a sign enough to make an appointment. In any case, if you are coughing up blood, the recommendation is that you seek a doctor urgently!
What causes the cough?
In practice, coughing is a protective mechanism for the lungs. The function is to eliminate the mucus (phlegm) normally formed in these organs. What happens is that, together with the secretion, foreign bodies and pathogens are placed out of the airways, protecting the respiratory system from various diseases. That’s why you shouldn’t hold your cough. If you feel like coughing, you should do it!
Most coughs are caused by a cold or flu, but other causes include smoking, heartburn (acid reflux), allergies, infections such as bronchitis, or even mucus running down your throat from the back of your nose. It’s worth noting that coughing is rarely a sign of something serious, like lung cancer. However, it is not safe to rule out the hypotheses without consulting a doctor first.
Source: NHS, Mayo Clinic