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

Dr. David R. Heller, DO
Emergency Medicine
You should go to the emergency room for a cough if you’re having difficulty breathing or have a high fever or chills, suggests David Heller, DO, from Portsmouth Regional Hospital. Watch this video to learn more.
You should go to the emergency room if your cough persists for over a week, you experience shortness of breath or fever. Watch Jayson Tappan, MD, of Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, explain more.
In this video, Christopher Crowell, MD from StoneSprings Hospital Center explains when a cough may warrant a visit to the emergency room.
Jennifer Dekoschak, RN
Emergency Medicine
Jennifer Dekoschak, RN from Parkland Medical Center, says that people should listen to their bodies and if a cough is worrying them, they should go to the emergency room. Watch this video to learn more.
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.
Elissa Noyes
Emergency Medicine
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
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
Intermountain Healthcare
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!

Continue Learning about Lung Disease and Respiratory System

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Important: 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.