There are few things in life more annoying than an annoying cough that just won’t go away. A cough can be a simple tickle in the throat or it can persist after a cold. No matter how long you’ve been dealing with it, the discomfort can make you wonder and search online for how to get rid of a cough in five minutes. The sooner the better, right?
But to be honest, coughing isn’t always a bad thing. Coughing is a reflex that protects our airways and lungs from irritants like dust, germs, and mucus. And occasional coughing is perfectly normal, according to the American Lung Association.
However, a cough isn’t necessarily something you should just shake off. “[A] Cough has many causes, ranging from a common viral illness, to asthma or seasonal allergies, to more serious health problems like chronic lung disease, congestive heart failure, or even cancer,” said Michael Hanak, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Now some people can get a cough after being infected with COVID-19. A COVD cough is dry and persistent, according to Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital. It is typically accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, headache, and shortness of breath.
Certain medications could also be to blame, says Hanak. Environmental triggers such as dust, mold, or other pollutants can also be a contributing factor, either through lung irritation or postnasal drip. Acid reflux is another possible trigger.
Since a cough can be a sign of illness or it can be completely harmless, when should you see a doctor? “If a cough has persisted for more than two weeks, it makes sense to contact a doctor for additional testing or referrals,” notes Hanak.
In the meantime, if you’re just getting started with chopping, you can try these remedies to soothe your throat.