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Acute Cough


An acute cough is a cough that lasts up to 3 weeks. It may be caused by the common cold, allergies, or an infection. Conditions such as COPD and asthma may also cause an acute cough. An acute cough usually goes away on its own within 3 to 4 weeks.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You are breathing fast, or you have trouble breathing.
  • You cough up blood, or you see blood in your mucus.
  • You have a fever, and you are coughing up yellow or green mucus.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your cough does not get better within 8 weeks.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be recommended by your healthcare provider. Ask about medicines you can take to decrease your cough. You may need medicine to treat allergies or decrease swelling in your airways. If you have a bacterial infection, you may need antibiotics.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.