While you may not think of a cough as an urgent medical condition, persistent coughs or ones accompanied by other symptoms may be a sign of a more serious condition. TexomaCare Urgent Care, with multiple locations throughout Grayson County, Texas and Durant, Oklahoma can help determine the causes for numerous types of coughs.
Types of Coughs
Whether it is a cold symptom, chronic dry cough or even whooping cough, all coughs fall under the categories of productive and non-productive. It’s important to know which cough a patient is suffering from in order to help identify if the cough is a huge health concern.
Productive coughs produce phlegm which may drain from the sinuses or come from the lungs. Although they can be uncomfortable, productive coughs are actually the body’s way of clearing mucus from the lungs and should not be suppressed. Productive cough can be caused by viral illness, bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, chronic lung disease (COPD, etc.), gastroesophageal reflux disease, nasal discharge (postnasal drip), and smoking.
Nonproductive cough is dry and has no sputum production. Dry hacking cough can develop at the end of a cold or after exposure to smoke or dust. Dry cough symptoms can be caused by viral illnesses, bronchospasm (irritants or irritation of the airway), allergies, certain medications (such as ACE inhibitors), or asthma.
Why Am I Coughing?
Less Severe Causes of Coughs
- Upper respiratory tract infection is the most common cause of coughing. These coughs are often related to illness, are infections of the nose and throat and are commonly associated with sore throats, fevers and runny noses. To help avoid infections, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. For an upper respiratory tract infection, cough medicine can provide relief for constant coughing.
- Hay fever (or allergic rhinitis) can often present with a dry cough as well as sneezing and a runny nose. Hay fever is often referred to as seasonal allergies and often mimics the symptoms of a common cold. However, coughs caused by hay fever are typically treatable with allergy medications like Zyrtec® and Allegra®.
- Inhalation of irritants can also cause coughs as particles get stuck in the respiratory system. Exposure to fumes and vapors can cause a cough through inflammation of the throat and airway.
- Lower respiratory tract infections are more serious viral and bacterial infections that usually cause a deep, lingering cough and fever. They can affect the airways (bronchitis) or go further into the lungs (pneumonia). People who are infected usually produce antibodies to fight the virus.
- Postnasal drip often starts as a dry cough and usually stems from chronic dripping of mucus into the back of the throat. Those dealing with a postnasal drip makes them feel as though they constantly need to clear their throat. These coughs can often get worse at night.
- Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) is when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and can cause coughing. Most people who suffer from GERD can manage the discomfort with lifestyle changes and various over-the-counter medications.
Severe Causes of Coughs That Necessitate Emergency Care
If you suspect any of the following causes for your cough, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.
- Pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that travels typically from the legs to the lungs, causing sudden shortness of breath and a dry cough. Pulmonary embolisms can be life threatening and should be treated immediately.
- Lung collapse (or pneumothorax) is deflation of the lung and can be spontaneous or because of chest trauma. Signs of a collapsed lung include sudden chest pain, dry cough, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, and fatigue.
- Heart failure can present with coughing or shortness of breath. Build-up of fluid in the lungs can cause a persistent cough.
If any cough is painful and persistent, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Urgent Care for Coughs
It’s crucial to accurately diagnose your cough to receive appropriate treatment. Visiting an urgent care center for a cough can help quickly determine a cause and corresponding action plan.
Contact Us Now
TexomaCare Urgent Care, located in Denison, Texas, Pottsboro, Texas and Durant, Oklahoma, is open seven days a week with convenient daytime and evening hours for patients needing urgent care treatment to help treat coughs. TexomaCare Urgent Care’s team of medical professionals are here to help patients who are dealing with various coughs.