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Diagnosing Your Cough: Should You Go to Urgent Care?

Diagnosing Your Cough: Should You Go to Urgent Care?

In most cases, a cough is just a cough and will disappear within a few days or weeks. But sometimes, it indicates something more serious. A cough could be anything from allergies to a cold to pneumonia.

Figuring out whether a cough requires a trip to urgent care depends on the type of cough and how long you've had it. Your overall health will also be a factor.

The Main Types of Coughs

There are four main types of cough. Each is associated with a different set of conditions. As such, some varieties, like whooping cough, always require a trip to urgent care. A wet cough or dry cough may not require medical attention at all.

  • Chronic cough — Chronic coughs are any coughs that last over eight weeks. They can have various causes, such as acid reflux, smoking, asthma, or allergies.
  • Dry cough — Dry coughs do not produce mucus. They can indicate something minor, such as the common cold, acid reflux, or allergies. Or they may suggest something more serious, such as lung cancer or asthma.
  • Wet cough — Wet or productive coughs produce phlegm or mucus. They are usually a symptom of colds, the flu, or bronchitis.
  • Whooping cough — Whooping cough or pertussis is a bacterial infection, and it is highly contagious. While it can affect anyone, it is most common in babies and toddlers. It can be extremely serious, even deadly. The name comes from the fact that patients with this cough make a "whooping" noise when they breathe in.

Some Wet Coughs That Require Urgent Care

Some wet coughs are not concerning. But other times, they can indicate a severe issue. Visit an urgent care center if the wet cough includes blood or the mucus you cough up is discolored. If the mucus is thick, this is an indication that you need medical treatment.

Longer-Lasting Coughs Require Treatment

It should be no surprise that if your cough lasts longer, it is more likely to require treatment. You probably don't need medical attention if your cough lasts a few days. However, once it goes past two weeks, you should visit an urgent care facility or make an appointment with your doctor.

Consider Pre-Existing Conditions

You will also want to consider your medical history. For example, if you have a recent transplant, diabetes, HIV, or heart disease, your body is not as able to fight infections. A cough can also be a concern if you are receiving chemotherapy due to your weak immune system.

Accompanying Symptoms That Require a Trip to Urgent Care

Coughs don't always occur in isolation, and the other symptoms you have can indicate your overall health and if the cough is a concern. If your cough includes any of the following symptoms, you should strongly consider visiting urgent care:

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

The Bottom Line: When to Go to Urgent Care

Overall, it would be best if you went to urgent care immediately for any cough that comes with chest pain, wheezing, or shortness of breath. If you have whooping cough or your cough is over two weeks, consult a doctor. You should also head to urgent care if the cough interferes with your daily life.

Relieve Your Cough With Bayhealth Total Care’s Emergency and Urgent Care Center

Bayhealth Total Care’s Emergency and Urgent Care Center

At Bayhealth Total Care’s Emergency and Urgent Care Center, our primary goal is to provide the residents of Sussex County with exceptional service and the proper billing for the care they need. Our combined emergency room and urgent care in Milton is fully equipped to handle everything from allergies to chest pain 24/7 with on-site labs, x-ray, ultrasound and CT.

Every patient at our ER and urgent care walk-in clinic is seen by an ER-trained physician at every visit, regardless of the level of care they need. Our approach makes care more affordable by avoiding the higher cost of the emergency room if patients only require urgent care services. Our ER and urgent care clinic is open 24/7.

Bayhealth Total Care’s Emergency and Urgent Care Center is located at 18383 Hudson Road, Milton, DE 19968.