Coughing is how the body removes mucus, dust and other foreign particles from the lungs and airways. It’s also how the body reacts to irritation of the airway.
Coughing is a symptom, not a disease. Coughs and colds are a common issue that happens to everyone. However, its characteristics and related symptoms help determine its cause and whether or not you should seek medical attention.
Types of Coughs
According to the American Lung Association®, there are multiple causes of coughs. Some are nothing to worry about, and some may require a trip to an urgent care center.
- Upper respiratory tract infections: The most common cause of coughing related to illness are infections of the nose and throat. This is commonly associated with sore throats, fevers and runny noses. Infections of the nose and throat are the most common cause of coughing related to illness. Almost always caused by viruses, they are usually associated with fevers, sore throat and runny nose.
- Hay fever (or allergic rhinitis): Usually associated with sneezing, a runny nose and a dry cough, hay fever often mimics the symptoms of a common cold. A common allergic condition that mimics the symptoms of a common cold.
- Inhalation of irritants: Exposure to fumes and vapors can cause cough through inflammation of the throat and airway.
- Lower respiratory tract infections: These 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).
- Pulmonary embolism: If you suspect a pulmonary embolism, call 9-1-1. A blood clot travels, usually from the legs, to the lungs, causing sudden shortness of breath and a dry cough that could lead to death.
- Lung collapse (or pneumothorax): A lung collapse 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 and shortness of breath.
- Heart failure: A build-up of fluid in the lung that causes coughing and shortness of breath could be a symptom of a weak or diseased heart.
- Postnasal drip: Starting as a dry cough, this usually stems from chronic dripping of mucus into the back of the throat. Coughing typically occurs after a recent infection or constantly being near an allergy trigger.
- Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD): When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, you might get heartburn. When the acid rises, a dry cough may occur.
Productive coughs produce phlegm, which comes from the sinuses or the lungs. Productive coughing can be caused by a number of illnesses or conditions, such as bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, chronic lung disease, acid reflux disease, nasal discharge and smoking. These coughs shouldn’t be suppressed so the mucus gets cleared from the lungs.
A nonproductive cough is dry. A dry hacking cough can develop at the end of a cold or after exposure to smoke or dust. Dry coughs can be caused by viral illnesses, irritation of the airway, allergies, certain medications and asthma.
Why Choose Urgent Care for Coughs?
Visiting urgent care for coughs whether you are an adult or child might seem like an unnecessary trip, but it can be necessary to assure that your coughing is just a simple issue that can be treated with over-the-counter medicine as opposed to something serious.
Coughing should go away on its own or with the help of common medicines, but if the cough is exceptionally bad, painful or a chronic cough, a trip to urgent care may be necessary. A common cold might not be just a common cold, and a cough can be a symptom of a larger problem that your immune system cannot fight on its own. A trip to an urgent care center can help you to heal properly and return to your everyday life once the healing process is complete.
A Plus Urgent Care proudly serves patients in Southwestern Riverside County, including the communities of Lake Elsinore, Wildomar, Winchester, Murrieta, Temecula, Menifee, Sun City, Perris and San Jacinto. If you are looking for urgent care to address coughing issues, view locations near you to find relief.
Our locations are open seven days a week with convenient daytime and evening hours.