That nagging cough, it gets us all at some time or another. But when can we expect it to go away?
How long would you guess a cough lasts?
“A sickness cough- probably, maybe a week,” says Leslie Morris.
Mother of two Leslie Morris had the number one answer.
How long do you think a cough lasts?
“You mean like a cold and a cough? A week,” says Susan Brown.
Both ladies are wrong. Experts find nationwide, the majority of people underestimate the length of time it takes to clear a cough.
“Most complaints we get from cough are usually associated with some sort of viral illness to begin with. The other symptoms resolve, but the cough persists. The patients say ‘Dr. Singh I have this cough I’ve had it for seven days it’s not going away’,” says Dr. Mala Singh, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.
Although we may wish to send our hacking packing, this annoying symptom sticks around- on average for 18 days, sometimes longer.
“I tell them time will heal, let it resolve,” says Dr. Singh.
Problem is people are impatient. The longer a cough lingers, the more likely someone is to think they need antibiotics. That could actually do more harm than good.
“If the cough is persistent, they come back and see me and say ‘ok I want an antibiotic right now. The patients get use to the antibiotics. They lower their immune system by doing that. They don’t have the resistance to fight anymore,” says Dr. Singh.
Antibiotics treat bacterial illnesses, not viral ones. According to the CDC of the more than 7 million annual cases of acute cough. More than 90% were viral. Meaning antibiotics wouldn’t help. Maybe more people should take a cue from Morris.
“I think I’ve taken antibiotics once in my life that I know of. So I really wouldn’t go looking for them,” says Morris.
Knowing the length of the average cough, may give you a little relief.
View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/
Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.