Short-term & chronic coughs

Coughing is a reflex action that clears mucus, irritants & allergens (such as dust, smoke, or pollen) from your airways.
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A cough is considered chronic if it lasts for longer than two months for adults (or one month for children).

Chronic cough can be severely debilitating, particularly if it interferes with a peaceful night’s sleep. Repeated coughing can also be exhausting, & in extreme cases can cause dizziness, vomiting, & fractured ribs.


The vast majority of short-term coughs are caused by cold & flu viruses, or by more serious infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Other chronic conditions such as asthma, heartburn, or allergies can cause a cough, & coughing is a side effect of some blood pressure medicines (ACE inhibitors).

Other causes of cough include:

  • Smoking
  • Postnasal drip (mucous drips down into the throat from the sinuses, causing irritation)
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Sarcoidosis


In very rare cases, a cough is a sign of something more serious, such as cancer. Coughing up blood is an urgent symptom & should be addressed by a doctor immediately.


  • Sinus symptoms such as runny or blocked nose, or postnasal drip
  • ore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Heartburn
  • Blood in expectorating (this is rare & should be treated as a medical emergency)

What to do next?

Coughs are usually not caused by a serious underlying condition, but we advise you to come in & have a doctor evaluate your condition & give you a diagnosis, especially if it is chronic, persistent, or if you are coughing up blood.

Give us a call to make an appointment over the phone, or use our online booking system.

020 7323 1023
Harley Street Area, W1
020 7101 0355
City of London, EC2N