How Long Does a Cough Typically Last

Coughing is a reflex that allows you to remove air from your lungs. It’s your body’s way of clearing irritants like dust, mucus, and bacteria from your lungs. Coughing is a typical symptom of a variety of disorders. Coughs are thought to account for about 30 million visits to the doctor’s office each year, according to one estimate. The amount of time a cough lasts depends on a number of things. We’ll look at how long a cough usually lasts for a variety of conditions, what to do if your cough persists, and when to visit your doctor in the sections below.

When it comes to common ailments, how long does a cough normally last?

Coughs occur in a variety of shapes and sizes. Coughs, for example, might be classified as productive or non-productive. A productive cough produces mucus or phlegm, whereas a non-productive cough produces no mucus or phlegm.

Coughs can also be classified based on how long they last:

  • Acute cough. A cough that lasts shorter than three weeks is considered acute.
  • Subacute cough. When a cough lasts between three and eight weeks, it is called subacute.
  • Chronic cough. A persistent cough lasts for more than eight weeks.

Let’s look at how long a cough can linger for a few common ailments now that you’ve learned about the different sorts of coughs.

Colds are very common.

The common cold is an illness of the upper respiratory tract that can be caused by more than 200 different viruses, with rhinoviruses being the most frequent. A cough, along with other classic cold symptoms, generally begins within 2 to 3 days of a person catching a cold virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Coughs can linger anywhere from 10 to 14 days and are generally the final symptom of a cold to go gone. Coughs might continue up to two weeks in rare circumstances.


The flu, like the common cold, is an infection of the upper respiratory tract. It’s caused by a variety of influenza virus strains. Every autumn and winter, there are flu outbreaks all throughout the world. Flu symptoms usually subside after 3 to 7 days. Coughs can continue for 14 days or more, according to the CDC, especially in the elderly and those with underlying lung illness.


Bronchitis is a condition in which the lungs’ major airways (bronchi) become inflamed. Respiratory infections are the most common cause, although they can also be caused by exposure to environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke and dust. Bronchitis is frequently acute or transient. Symptoms like a cough normally go away in less than three weeks. Bronchitis can become chronic in some cases. A daily productive cough in these circumstances might last up to three months and return year after year.


Pneumonia is a disorder in which your lungs’ small air sacs (alveoli) become inflamed. Coughing, fever, and shortness of breath are among the symptoms that might occur as a result of this. While viruses can cause pneumonia, bacterial infections are the most common cause. In most cases, a cough caused by pneumonia will go away after 6 weeks. Individual healing timeframes, as well as the severity of the sickness, might vary.


The new coronavirus, often known as SARS-CoV-2, causes COVID-19, a respiratory ailment. Coughing is a frequent symptom of COVID-19 infection in many persons. Despite the fact that we’re still learning more about COVID-19, some research has indicated that a cough caused by this respiratory infection lasts an average of 19 days. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that persons who have recovered from COVID-19 may have a post-viral cough after the virus has passed them by.


Pertussis, often known as whooping cough, is a potentially fatal respiratory bacterial illness. While the early stages of pertussis are marked by an infrequent cough, the latter stages are marked by a series of intense coughing fits. Following these fits, the individual makes the distinctive “whooping” sound as he or she inhales forcefully. Coughing fits linked with pertussis can linger for 10 weeks or longer, according to the CDC. In fact, the ailment is known as the “100-day cough” in various parts of the world.


Croup is a respiratory infection that primarily affects children under the age of five. Viruses of several varieties are capable of causing it. Croup is characterized by a harsh “barking” cough that is usually worse at night. Croup symptoms, such as a cough, usually go away in 3 to 7 days.


Allergies are caused by your immune system reacting to a material that is otherwise innocuous, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander. A cough can be an allergy symptom, along with a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. The amount of time you cough as a result of allergies varies. It may occur seasonally, for example, during the pollen season. It might also be chronic, due to allergies being present in your house or surroundings all year.

What causes a cough that won’t go away?

While many coughs are short-lived, some might last for weeks or months. Coughing might linger for a variety of causes, including:

  • Postnasal drip is a condition that occurs when there is a buildup of mu When your sinuses create too much mucus, postnasal drip occurs. Coughing might be caused by mucus dripping down your throat. One of the most prevalent causes of postnasal drip is allergies.
  • Coughing that persists after a respiratory illness has cleared up might be related to infection-induced disturbance and hypersensitivity of the airways.
  • Health issues that lie under the surface. A persistent cough can be caused by or contributed to by underlying health issues. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and cystic fibrosis are examples of this. Acid reflux can also cause a chronic cough.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoking is a major contributor to the development of a chronic or persistent cough.

Is it possible for a lingering cough to lead to complications?

A chronic cough can disturb your daily routine and lead to a range of issues, including:

  • exhaustion or fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • headache
  • a hoarse voice
  • muscle aches and pains from coughing
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • loss of bladder control
  • bleeding in the eye
  • broken ribs

How to Get Rid of a Cough That Won’t Go Away

If you’re suffering from a persistent cough, try the following self-care tips:

  • Drink plenty of water. Drinking enough water might help rid your throat of any possible irritants. Warm liquids, such as teas and broths, should be consumed in addition to water.
  • Inhale the moisture. Increasing the amount of moisture in your surroundings may assist to relieve inflammation in your airways and throat. Consider using a humidifier or taking a hot shower.
  • Warm liquids with honey should be consumed. A cough can be relieved by mixing 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey in warm water or herbal tea. Honey should not be given to children under the age of one year owing to the risk of newborn botulism.
  • Cough drops are a good way to pass the time. Cough medicines, throat lozenges, and even hard candies can be used to ease an inflamed throat.
  • Irritants should be avoided. Avoid common irritants such as cigarette smoke, dust, and other environmental irritants that might aggravate your cough.
  • Use OTC (over-the-counter) drugs. OTC decongestants or antihistamines may assist with a cough caused by allergies or postnasal drip. However, be cautious while using over-the-counter cough medicines. They can help with acute cough, but they won’t help with a persistent cough caused by an underlying problem.

When should you go to the doctor if you have a persistent cough?

If your cough hasn’t gone away after three weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor or healthcare provider. Your doctor can examine your cough and determine whether or not there are any underlying issues that are causing or contributing to it.

Also, consult your doctor immediately away if you have a cough that:

  • throws up blood or a lot of mucous
  • happens in the presence of a fever, wheezing, or vomiting
  • is accompanied by discomfort in the chest that is unrelated to the cough
  • is accompanied by an appetite loss or unexplained weight loss

In Conclusion

Coughing can be caused by a variety of circumstances. Respiratory infections, allergies, and pollutants are just a few examples. The majority of the time, a cough is acute, or only lasts a few days. The majority of acute coughs last three weeks or less. Coughs that continue longer than three weeks might become subacute or chronic. A postnasal drip, the consequences of an illness, or an underlying health issue can all cause this. Drinking drinks, providing moisture to the air, and avoiding irritants are all ways to manage a cough at home. Make an appointment with your doctor if your cough lasts longer than three weeks or is accompanied by worrying symptoms.

Check Out More At @usahealthline

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