Lung Disease and Respiratory System

When should I go to the emergency room (ER) for a cough?

A Answers (5)

  • A Emergency Medicine, answered on behalf of
    Coughs are typically not life threatening, but if your immune system is compromised with another illness or the cough is accompanied by any of the symptoms below, you may want to go to your closest emergency room (ER) to get checked out.
    • shortness of breath
    • high fever
    • coughing up blood
    • inability to swallow
    • muffled voice
    • swelling on one side of throat
    • chest pain
  • Call 911 or go to the hospital emergency room for:
    • A baby who can't eat, drink, or cry because of coughing
    • Trouble speaking more than 4 or 5 words at a time because of coughing
    • Chest pain that goes up to the neck, arm, or jaw
    • Passing out
    • A lot of trouble breathing
    • Coughing up blood or pink, foamy mucus
    These may be signs of a serious problem. Get medical help right away!
  • A Emergency Room Nursing, answered on behalf of
    When Should I Go to the Emergency Room for a Cough?
    If you’re taking cough medication and it doesn’t get any better, seek emergency room care, says Angela, RN, of Englewood Community Hospital. Watch to learn more about when a cough might need medical attention.
  • You may need to go to the emergency room if your cough is so bad that you have trouble catching your breath. Always get emergency medical help if you have severe shortness of breath.

    You might also need to go to the emergency room if you have a cough with these symptoms:
    • high fever
    • throat closing
    • chest pain
    • swallowed or breathed in a solid object
  • A Emergency Medicine, answered on behalf of
    When Should I Go to the Emergency Room for a Cough?
    If you've been coughing for more than a week with other symptoms present, you might want to visit the ER, says Michael Dodd, MD, from Frankfort Regional Medical Center. In this video, find out what other two factors might play into this decision.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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When should I call the doctor about a cough?