The medical professionals at Northwest Urgent Care locations in Amarillo, Texas, are here to diagnose, treat and help you with your cough.
Why Do We Cough?
The body removes mucus, dust and other foreign particles from the lungs and airways through coughing. Irritation may also be what is causing your cough.
Coughing is an important reflex because it helps protect the airways and lungs against irritants, according to the American Lung Association, but a persistent cough, chronic cough or one that comes with other symptoms may be a sign of a more serious issue.
Types of Coughs
Whether your cough is a cold symptom, a pesky chronic dry cough or even something as serious as whooping cough, all coughs can be labeled as productive or non-productive coughing.
Productive coughs produce phlegm — phlegm drains from the sinuses or is in the lungs. You should not try to hold in your cough, as your body is trying to clear the mucus from your lungs. Productive cough can be caused by:
- Viral illness
- Chronic lung disease (COPD, etc.)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Nasal discharge (post-nasal drip)
- And more
Dry with no phlegm or sputum production, nonproductive coughing can be painful and is often the symptom of other issues. Watch for dry cough symptoms such as:
- Dry hacking cough that can develop at the end of a common cold
- Dry hacking cough that can develop after exposure to smoke or dust
Dry cough can be caused by:
- Viral illnesses
- Bronchospasm (irritants or irritation of the airway)
- Certain medications (such as ACE inhibitors)
Why Am I Coughing?
Upper respiratory tract infections — The most common cause of coughing related to illness are infections of the nose and throat. An upper respiratory tract infection affects the respiratory system, which is a part of the body that is responsible for breathing. This infection is associated with sore throats, fevers and runny noses. Infections of the nose and throat are the most common cause of coughing related to illness.
Almost always caused by viruses, upper respiratory tract infections are usually associated with fevers, sore throat and runny nose. To help avoid infections, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands for 20 seconds or more with soap and water after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Hay fever (or allergic rhinitis) — This type of cough mimics the symptoms of a common cold. The symptoms a person can expect are a dry cough, sneezing and running nose.
Inhalation of irritants — Exposure to fumes and vapors can cause a cough through inflammation of the throat and airway.
Lower respiratory tract infections — These are more serious viral and bacterial infections that cause an infection of the lungs, specifically in the lower airways. This infection usually causes a deep, lingering cough and fever. This infection can cause serious illness that affects the airways such as bronchitis or go further into the lungs that can lead to pneumonia.
Pulmonary embolism — If you suspect a pulmonary embolism, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room. A blood clot travels, usually from the legs, to the lungs, causing sudden shortness of breath and a dry cough that could lead to death.
Lung collapse (or pneumothorax) — A lung collapse is deflation of the lung and can be spontaneous or because of chest trauma. Signs of a collapsed lung include sudden chest pain, dry cough and shortness of breath.
Heart failure — A build-up of fluid in the lung that causes coughing and shortness of breath could be a symptom of a weak or diseased heart.
Postnasal drip — Starting as a dry cough, this usually stems from chronic dripping of mucus into the back of the throat. Coughing typically occurs after a recent infection or constantly being near an allergy trigger.
Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) — When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, you might get acid-reflux or GERD which can cause coughing. If any cough is painful and persistent, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Why Choose Urgent Care for Coughs
Diagnosing and treating your cough is important, as it can be a symptom of a much more serious issue. If it is not a serious issue, such as a sinus infection, our urgent care center can prescribe the correct antibiotics, a steroid nasal spray or even just better allergy medicine.
Our urgent care team is prepared to diagnose and treat your cough while helping you start to feel better, sooner.
Contact Us Now
Northwest Urgent Care locations, located in Amarillo, Texas, are open seven days a week with convenient daytime and evening hours for patients needing urgent care treatment. For children, teens, adults and older adults, our urgent care center team of medical professionals are here to help with your cough. Walk-in or make a reservation online.