If you can believe it, the COVID-19 pandemic is now in its third year. Most of us know more than a few people who have had it; chances are you’ve had it at least once. Still, you might be surprised by the side effects that can last for weeks after you feel better. Many people ask in person and on social media, “How long does COVID cough last?”
How Long Does COVID Cough Last?
Getting sick with COVID-19 is often accompanied by a cough, says Luci Leykum, MD, director of primary care services at Harbor Health and professor of internal medicine at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas in Austin. A cough can be a sign of many different illnesses, like a cold.
“Up to 5% of people who take COVID have a cough that lasts longer than four weeks, but less than 50% of those people have a cough that lasts longer than four weeks,” she says. “If it lasts longer than that, it could be related to long COVID, especially if it happens with other long COVID symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, or shortness of breath.” And just so you know, long COVID is when you still have symptoms even though you no longer have the virus or are contagious.
Even though you may have let your guard down a bit, you probably still want to do what you can to stay healthy and act wisely if you get sick. Read on to find out how to deal with a cough after taking COVID and when you should see a doctor.
Learn from the pro: Dr. Luci Leykum is in charge of primary care services at Harbor Health and teaches internal medicine at the University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin.
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Why does COVID make you cough, to begin with?
Dr. Leykum says that coughing is a reflex that helps get foreign things out of the airway. The American Lung Association says that a persistent cough after COVID is often a sign that you are getting better because it is your lungs’ way of getting rid of dead cells.
In many ways, coughs caused by COVID are like coughs caused by other viruses, allergies, or infections that swell the airways. Most coughs from infection-related inflammation are dry coughs that go away in four weeks. Other causes, like allergies, may last longer depending on how often they are triggered.
How can I tell if I have COVID-19 or allergies?
“Inflammation can cause fluid to be made in the airways, which can cause a cough. COVID-19 can also cause a cough because it causes inflammation in the airways,” says Dr. Leykum.
After taking COVID, how long does a cough last?
Dr. Leykum says that a cough that starts after taking COVID usually goes away in four weeks. The American Lung Association says it can last up to six months after infection.
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Some people may cough more often if they smoke, vape, are exposed to pollution, have allergies, or have asthma.
“It can take a while for all of the inflammation caused by COVID to go away, and it can take different amounts of time for different people,” says Dr. Leykum.
Is a COVID cough that lasts a long time contagious?
The good news is that just because someone still has a cough doesn’t mean they are still contagious. “The CDC recommends that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 wear masks for 10 days after the first sign of illness. People with severe illness should stay in bed for 20 days and have no fever for at least 24 hours,” says Dr. Leykum. “After that time, it’s unlikely that someone will be contagious, but if you’re worried, you could wear a mask.”
How do you stop coughing from COVID?
Most COVID-related coughs that last for a long time are dry coughs, which means you won’t want to cough up anything.
A cough caused by COVID usually goes away in four weeks, but it can last up to six months.
Dr. Leykum says these coughs usually get better over time, usually in a few weeks. “Warm drinks with honey, small sips of water or tea when you feel like you’re going to cough, lozenges, and staying well hydrated can all help soothe your throat.”
When should someone with a COVID cough see a doctor?
Even though the pandemic may no longer seem as scary as it did at first, you should still take any case of COVID and its symptoms seriously. If you have a cough that doesn’t go away after a month, Dr. Leykum says you should see your doctor.
Keep following our website Nog Magazine.com for more updates.