Coughing can be harmless, serious, acute, or chronic. If it doesn't improve after a week or two, or if you have other symptoms such as high fever, seek an emergency room.

When to Visit the Emergency Room for a Cough Serious

When Your Cough Is Serious

Coughing is a symptom common to many conditions. Most respiratory illnesses cause coughing, from colds and pneumonia to chronic diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis. When is a cough harmless, and when should you see a doctor?

At ER of Texas Emergency Rooms in the Dallas-Forth area, Texas, our board certified physicians offer rapid care with short wait times for patients of all ages. We provide medical evaluations and treatments to help you recover from an illness as quickly as possible. You can rely on our top-quality care for fast and compassionate help if you or your child has a troublesome cough.

When Is Coughing An Emergency?

Coughing up blood is an emergency, as is vomiting blood. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience a severe cough or dry cough with shortness of breath while resting or exerting yourself; rapid, shallow breathing; acute chest pain or blue lips or skin. Visit to the closest emergency room if you or a loved one has had a cough for longer than a few weeks. You should seek urgent care if you’re experiencing a cough with the following:

  • Fever
  • Wheezing
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ankle swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing up thick, greenish-yellow phlegm

See also: Why Does My Stomach Hurt When I Cough?

If you’re pregnant and have a cough, visit us at ER of Texas Emergency Care Emergency Room. We don’t require appointments, so you can see a specialist 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What’s Causing My Cough?

An acute cough is usually the result of a mild illness and goes away within a few weeks, while a chronic cough may indicate a more serious condition. We classify this symptom based on the length of time you’ve had the cough.

Acute Cough

An acute cough occurs suddenly and lasts for 2-3 weeks. You most often get acute coughs with a cold, flu, or acute bronchitis.

Acute coughs are also caused by:

  • Allergens (pet dander, pollen, or mold)
  • Environmental irritants (smoke, dust, or fumes)
  • Lower respiratory infections like pneumonia
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Chronic conditions like asthma
  • Serious conditions like pulmonary embolism or heart attack

Foreign bodies in the airway can also cause an acute cough. Depending on the location and type of foreign body, you might experience wheezing, coughing up blood, gagging, or a bulging abdomen when trying to breathe.

Chronic Cough

A chronic cough lasts longer than eight weeks in adults and more than four weeks in children. Chronic coughs can be caused by:

  • Smoking
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Chronic respiratory conditions
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Environmental triggers
  • Certain medications

Coughing in the morning is consistent with a smoker's cough, and repeated coughing at night or during exercise is consistent with asthma or a heart problem.

Coughing In Children

A child’s cough can sound terrible and may need medical attention, but most of the time, coughing isn’t dangerous. A cough is typically just your child’s body processing an illness. But sometimes you should seek the nearest closest emergency room.

Whooping Cough (pertussis)

Whooping cough is a disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis that can last for several weeks if left untreated. The infection can be life-threatening for infants and lead to serious health problems in adults.

It causes coughing fits and spasms that lead to wheezing and often vomiting.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes mild, cold-like symptoms. It’s a common virus that can become serious in infants and older adults. RSV causes coughing by inflaming or infecting small airways in the lungs.

If you're experiencing a persistent cough, it can be difficult to know when it's time to seek medical attention. While most coughs are caused by a viral infection and will clear up on their own within a few days, there are certain signs that indicate a more serious problem.

Here are some instances when you should consider visiting the emergency room for a cough:

  • Difficulty Breathing: If you're having trouble catching your breath, or feel like you can't get enough air, this is a serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention. It could indicate an underlying lung or heart condition that needs to be addressed right away.
  • Chest Pain: If you experience chest pain along with your cough, it could be a sign of a heart attack or pneumonia. It's important to get medical attention immediately, as these conditions can be life-threatening.
  • High Fever: If you have a high fever along with your cough, it could be a sign of a more serious infection such as pneumonia. It's important to get medical attention if your fever reaches 103°F or higher.
  • Coughing up Blood: If you are coughing up blood or thick mucus, this is a serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention. It could be a sign of a serious lung infection or even lung cancer.
  • Weakened Immune System: If you have a weakened immune system due to a chronic condition or medication, you should seek medical attention for a cough sooner rather than later. Your body may have a harder time fighting off infections, so it's important to catch any potential problems early.

In general, if your cough is accompanied by any of the above symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. While some coughs may be mild and go away on their own, others could be signs of a more serious problem that requires urgent treatment. Don't hesitate to seek medical attention if you're unsure – it's always better to err on the side of caution.

When Your Cough Is Serious

We’re here for you. A cough can be acute or chronic. COVID-19 also causes a cough. If you or your child has a cough, call our ER of Texas emergency room experts or walk in anytime.

We have 9 facilities spread across the DFW area with average wait times of less than 10 mins that are OPEN 24/7 located in Hurst, Colleyville, Frisco, Highland Village, Hillcrest, Uptown, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Texoma.