Is a Cough Always Contagious?

October 15, 2023

Having a cough can be an annoying symptom to manage. Sometimes, a cough can be a tell-tale warning sign to stay away from someone because they’re sick. Other times, coughing is just a reflex. Read on to learn more about the causes of coughs and when to seek medical attention for them.

What Causes a Cough?

Simply put, a cough is just a reflex. Coughing is triggered subconsciously by your body to clear your airway of irritants. Coughing is often triggered by environmental irritants, such as allergens or dust. Coughing also is a common side effect for illnesses that are related to your sinuses, as the mucus produced by respiratory infections can irritate your throat and lungs.

Although coughs are just a reflex, sometimes they are a symptom of an illness. Common illnesses which coughing is a symptom of include:

  • Allergies
  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Sinus Infection

As you can see, some of these illnesses such as allergies and asthma are not contagious. However, when coughing is caused by a virus, it can spread the virus through little droplets dispersed by coughing. That’s why it’s always important to cough into your arm to avoid getting people around you sick.

When is a Cough Contagious?

Coughing is contagious when it is caused by an active infection. In most cases, coughs are caused by a viral infection. Coughing can surface fluids that have the virus and spread them through the air through tiny droplets. This is the action that actually makes a cough contagious.

Common symptoms of a viral illness include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat

If you have a persistent cough, it is important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment at urgent care.

Cough Diagnosis & Treatment at Urgent Care

Most of the time, you’re not aware whether you have a virus or not. There are common symptoms of viruses such as congestion, coughing, and fatigue that may give you an indication that you could have one, but oftentimes since they resolve on their own they do not require lab testing. Because of this, it is best to use caution when you or someone around you has a cough. This can include coughing into your arm to avoid spreading the virus through tiny droplets, and ensuring that you’re washing your hands regularly.

If your cough is persistent or productive, you should seek medical attention at urgent care because it could be caused by something more serious than a virus. Through a physical exam, medical professionals can help diagnose and treat your cough quickly, without long wait times. To learn more about the illnesses we treat, visit our general illness service page on our website.

Get Cough Diagnosis & Treatment near Short Hills, NJ at AFC Urgent Care Short Hills

Although coughing can be caused by a variety of irritants, it is important to be aware of your symptoms to ensure you’re not spreading illness through your cough. The best way to get rid of a cough is to seek medical care at urgent care. At AFC Urgent Care Short Hills, we have on-site lab testing available for fast diagnosis and customized treatment plans all at our state of the art facility in Short Hills, NJ.

We accept most medical insurance plans and offer a discounted self-payment option for patients who are not using insurance to pay for their care. Simply walk-in today for treatment, or call to speak to one of our team members at (973) 671-5350.

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