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.