More than one quarter (27%) of U.S. patients reported in 2016 that they had visited an urgent care center in the last two years. That’s because there is a wide range of reasons to go to urgent care as opposed to the emergency room. On the other hand, some symptoms that may seem minor could actually be emblematic of bigger underlying issues. Coughing is a great example of this: as a common side effect to cold and flu-related illnesses, coughs come in many types. Here’s what you need to know about diagnosing your cough and figuring out when to go urgent care.

Diagnosing Your Cough
Chances are, you’ve had a cough before — it’s your body’s natural defensive response against toxins like smoke, allergens, and mucus. But there are many ways to describe your cough, and the type of cough you have, as well as your other symptoms, will determine whether urgent care is necessary. When you first notice that you’ve developed a cough, take note of when it comes on most frequently during the day or night. Listen to the sound and think about the feel as well. Also, take note of whether or not it leads to vomiting, keeps you up during the night, or has another side effect that may be out of the ordinary. Finally, take note of how long it lasts. If it goes on for several weeks, chances are higher that it’s something serious.

When to Visit Urgent Care
As mentioned, many coughs are a normal side effect of the average cold or flu. But keep an eye out for other unexpected or potentially severe symptoms: if you’re coughing up blood, too weak to talk or walk, experiencing significant dehydration, or you have a fever above 100.4 degrees F, seek medical attention. Furthermore, if your cough lasts more than eight weeks, sounds like severe wheezing, or is generally atypical, it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep yourself protected with convenient care treatment options.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to notice when your cough is normal or whether it may be a sign of something more serious. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to stop in and visit and urgent care for a professional diagnosis. For more information about the reasons to go to urgent care, contact LegacyER.