Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Health A-Z

Symptoms of a cough

NHS Choices Medical Reference

NHS Choices Logo

How long a cough lasts for depends on the cause. If it has been caused by the common cold, it can clear up after two to three days. Most coughs clear up within two weeks.

A dry cough will feel like a constant tickle in your throat. When you cough, there will not be any phlegm (thick mucus).

If you have a chesty cough as a result of a respiratory infection, you may cough up phlegm.

If you have a cough due to a viral infection, such as flu or bronchitis, you will not usually need to see a doctor unless your symptoms are severe.

When to see your doctor

See your GP if your cough has lasted for more than two weeks or is getting progressively worse.

Occasionally a secondary bacterial infection occurs, which can lead to a more serious condition developing, such as pneumonia.

Typical symptoms of pneumonia include rapid and shallow breathing, wheezing and coughing up phlegm that may be yellow, green, brownish or blood-stained.

Medical Review: September 12, 2009

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
fish n chips
Diarrhoea & more
man coughing
10 common allergy triggers
couple watching sunset
How much do you know?
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
woman washing face
Living and dealing with eczema
boy looking at broccoli
Quick tips for feeding picky eaters
bag of crisps
Food cravings that wreck your diet
dogs face
Workout with Fido
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting