6 possible causes of coughing & why your cough won’t go away


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Curious about what might be making you reach for the cough drops nonstop? Match your cough with this guide, and be sure to see a doctor if your cough is disrupting your sleep, if you’re coughing up any blood or if you’ve been coughing for more than eight weeks.

If you’ve been coughing for …  


3 weeks or less, it could be:

A cold: If you’re coughing up clear or pale yellow phlegm, you could be suffering from the common cold. If the mucus is a darker yellow or green, though, it might be a more serious infection — talk to your doctor.

Seasonal allergies: If you feel a liquid tingle in the back of your throat, it could be postnasal drip, associated with allergies. If you also have itchy eyes, chances are allergies are the culprit.

Whooping cough: If your coughing is very severe and even ends in vomiting, you could have whooping cough, an illness many mistakenly believe disappeared back in the day but is actually making a comeback in some areas. (Learn about more "old-fashioned" illnesses making a comeback here.)  


More than 3 weeks, it could be:

Acid reflux: In this condition, stomach acid flows back into your esophagus, which connects your stomach and throat. If you start coughing soon after you lie down to go to sleep, or if your coughs are accompanied by heartburn, acid reflux could be the problem.

Asthma: If your cough comes and goes with the seasons or becomes worse when you’re outside in the cold, it could be asthma, the Mayo Clinic says.

Chronic bronchitis: If you’re a current or former smoker, you could be suffering from this disease, which can cause congestion, breathlessness, wheezing and a cough that brings up discolored phlegm.