Hello, I'm Dr Rupal Shah.
I'm a GP at
the Bridge Lane
Group Practice in Battersea in
Coughs are incredibly common.
It's one of
the most common reasons
for people to come and see their GP.
Coughs are usually
by an infection,
whether that's a virus or a bacteria.
They can be caused
by other things as well,
in adults occasionally
acid reflux can cause a chronic cough.
A cough is usually
a symptom of an infection.
That could be an infection
of your upper airways,
or in more
serious cases it could be
a chest infection, so a pneumonia.
If the cough is a symptom
of an upper airways infection,
you're not too ill in yourself.
You might not have a high fever,
feel reasonably OK
but the cough
the main presenting symptom.
In cases of pneumonia,
usually you feel much more unwell.
You might have a high fever,
generally just feel awful,
headaches, muscle aches.
You might be coughing up
that can happen
in upper airways infections as well.
It matters very little, actually,
cough is dry or tickly
or all these other things,
and there's no really good evidence
that any of
the cough syrups you can buy
over the counter do very much.
More importantly is
how you're feeling in yourself,
so if you
feel really awful and you do
have the high fever and the headaches,
might be worth
seeking medical advice
sure the infection
hasn't gone down into your lungs.
If your cough is caused by a virus,
you may well have other symptoms,
a runny nose, sneezing,
sore throat, all the usual things.
If you do have many symptoms like that,
that you've got a virus than a bacteria,
and we can
bacterial illnesses with antibiotics.
Coughs usually last
for two to three weeks on average,
than most people expect.
If a cough is more persistent
than about three weeks,
I think it's
getting a medical opinion as to why.
If you've got a history of lung disease,
if you've got
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
or bad asthma,
it's worth seeing your GP.
If you're a
parent and you're worried
your child isn't well in themselves,
seem to be breathing
more quickly than usual,
seem to be a bit more lethargic
than usual, anything like that,
seeing your GP.
On the other hand, if it's just
that the cough isn't too bad in itself
doesn't seem to be getting better
after several weeks,
worth seeing your GP,
especially if you're a smoker.