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Coughing? Here's when to go to the doctor

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Coughing is annoying, but when does it go from being a nuisance to a serious medical problem? (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

Coughing is annoying, but when does it go from being a nuisance to a serious medical problem?

"The wintertime is the time that everyone gets a cough and it's not uncommon," says Dr. Alana Kennedy-Nasser at PurePediatrics.

Dr. Kennedy-Nasser says even if there's a bad cough lingering in your family or workplace, the common cold or flu are most likely to blame and they almost always clear up on their own.

So when should you take a cough more seriously?

If you:
  • are coughing so much you turn blue

  • have coughing fits that include more than 20 coughs between breaths

  • have a fever and a phlegmy cough

  • have signs of the flu

  • are a wheezing, sick infant


You should see a doctor.

If you don't have a cough of that severity:
  • honey is a natural remedy for anyone over 12 months old

  • a cool mist humidifier or steam shower

  • plenty of fluids


Many people expect antibiotics when they go to the doctor with a cough.

Almost all of them are just a virus so Dr. Kennedy-Nasser says antibiotics won't help.
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