When to go to Urgent Care for Cough
Many coughs are caused by a virus and will resolve on their own. If you have been coughing for less than two weeks and don’t feel sick, there is probably no need to go to urgent care. However, if your cough lasts longer than 10 days or you feel more ill (fever, fatigue, loss of appetite), urgent care may be in order. Make sure that you continue fluids when at home with a cold or flu. They help thin secretions so it is easier to clear them from your airways and make it less likely that a secondary infection will develop in your chest/lungs.
Sometimes you need a doctor when your cold just won’t quit, but it may not be necessary to visit urgent care or an emergency room. If your symptoms aren’t life-threatening, try visiting your local urgent care first. Many of these clinics are staffed by physicians who can help determine whether you should see a doctor in person or if you can self-medicate at home. For example, if you have lower back pain and think you might have kidney stones, an urgent care is a great place to start. A physician there will be able to figure out whether more extensive testing is required and prescribe over-the-counter pain medications that can help until you can see a primary care provider.
A cough lasts longer than two weeks, occurs every day, and can be brought on by a cold. These are signs that something is off in your respiratory system, which may indicate allergies or asthma. In some cases, your doctor might be able to prescribe an allergy medication or an inhaler right away; otherwise, you’ll need to get checked out by an urgent care clinic so they can diagnose what’s causing your cough.
You’ve heard it before: You don’t always need to see a doctor when you have a cough or cold. But what about when your cough lasts more than a week, is accompanied by other symptoms like chest pain or fever, or keeps you up at night? The general rule of thumb is that if your cold lasts longer than 10 days or starts to affect other areas of your life (school/work, personal relationships), then you might want to see a doctor.