Coughing is a normal reflex that lets you clear your airways of particles, microorganisms, or mucus. By doing it a few times a week or when you have something stuck in your throat it poses no cause for concern. But while coughing every once in a while is nothing to get worried about, a persistent cough could be a sign of something more serious. Plus, it’s one of the most common symptoms present in most diseases, so it’s best to know when to see a healthcare professional due to cough.

(Guest post written by Jeanie Watson)

RELATED: Morning Cough Causes & Symptoms

Possible Causes

Here are some of the common causes of coughs and whether you should seek medical assistance:

Common Cold

The common cold is a viral infection in your nose and throat. It’s caused by multiple viruses, but it’s most often brought about by the rhinovirus. Along with coughing, its symptoms include a sore throat, runny nose, and sneezing. The virus tends to go away on its own, so there’s often no need to get a check-up. However, you should seek professional help if the cold persists for more than 10 days.


Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to a harmless substance, like pollen or animal fur. This can cause a range of symptoms, including coughing, sneezing, stuffiness, skin rashes, and sore eyes. Medical check-ups aren’t required for allergies, unless they’re severe cases. Because they have no cure, it’s best to steer clear of your triggers.


Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes your alveoli, or the small air sacs in your lungs, to become inflamed and filled with fluid. This makes it more difficult for your lungs to transfer oxygen to the rest of your body, causing a difficulty in breathing. It also causes a wet cough, filled with mucus. Other symptoms include fevers, chest pain, and nausea. Because this condition is contagious, it’s best to seek medical help as soon as possible.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a lung disease that causes internal inflammation and a difficulty in breathing. It’s primarily caused by smoking. COPD is most often accompanied by a wet cough, with an excessive amount of mucus and phlegm. It can also cause you to wheeze. If you think you might have COPD, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible.

When to See a healthcare professional due cough – In-Person Visit

The facts above show that coughing can be caused by various diseases and infections. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to see a professional due to a cough, when it lasts for more than 10 days. You should also have a medical check-up if the cough is accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, or unexplained weight loss. For medical assistance, it’s best to go to your local clinic to meet with a primary care professional. They can take note of your symptoms, run a few diagnostics tests, and then prescribe treatment.

When to See a healthcare professional due cough – Telehealth consultation

Alternatively, you can opt to schedule a telehealth consultation, so that you can speak to healthcare professionals from the comforts of your own home. This option is ideal for patients who cannot travel in a safe manner from their houses.

When contacting a medical institution via their telehealth services, it’s likely you will see a nurse, as they’re often assigned to handle non-urgent cases. Registered nurses who’ve completed their RN to BSN degrees have been trained specifically to deal with telehealth consultations, and they’re adept at assessing patient health and providing advanced care remotely. Their background allows them to fill the role of both caregiver and teacher, which are both crucial when it comes to telehealth consultations. Patient education is all the more necessary with remote check-ups, as the patient’s understanding of their condition and treatment is of the upmost importance.

When to See a healthcare professional due cough – Referencing

However, if the nurse deems the patient’s cough or overall condition severe, they’ll refer to a doctor due as soon as possible. In some cases, the patient will be referred to a pulmonologist, a physician who specializes in respiratory health. Their background in internal medicine allows them to treat patients with severe or chronic breathing problems. Once the patient has been diagnosed, the pulmonologist will then prescribe medications, therapies, or pulmonary rehabilitation programs to treat the patient’s condition.

Regardless of how you choose to get in contact with a medical professional, it’s important to understand when this becomes necessary. That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of the possible causes of coughs and whether it’s a cause for concern.


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