What's that cough? Everybody coughs; it's the number one illness-related reason people go to the doctor, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases of cough are temporary, says Peter Dicpinigaitis, MD, director of the Montefiore Cough Center and professor of clinical medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. But even a short-term cough can be a sign of a bigger health issue that needs to be addressed by a doctor. Here's how to narrow down the possible culpritsfrom asthma to pneumonia to whooping coughso you can get better, fast.
A cold virus
A cough you've had for three weeks or less is most likely due to the common cold. Unfortunately, this coughwhich is mainly a dry cough, with some clear mucuscan persist for a month or more after the rest of your symptoms are gone. "The virus irritates nerve endings in your air passages, and they can stay sensitive for quite some time," says Dr. Dicpinigaitis.
How to treat a cold virus cough: There's no cure for viral infections, so you'll have to wait this one out. If your barking is serious and over-the-counter cough suppressants don't provide relief, your doc may ...