How to recognize different types of coughs
The winter months are often accompanied by a variety of minor illnesses. Whether it’s a sinus infection, a cough, or something more serious, there’s a good chance that you’ll get sick at some point between November and March.  Developing a cough is one of the most common symptoms that people experience. However, “a cough” is a very broad term that encompasses a variety of vastly different conditions. That’s why learning to differentiate between certain types of coughs is important. Each one indicates a different problem and can be a sign of whether or not you should seek treatment.  Let’s look at some of the most common types of coughs and how to recognize them.

What Is Dry Cough?
The most common type of cough that occurs is a dry cough. This is sometimes referred to as a non-productive cough as mucus isn’t produced during the process. While that’s a good thing for the lungs, a dry cough can quickly become uncomfortable if it persists.  A dry cough can arise for a variety of different reasons. Commonly, it is the result of allergies or asthma. During the winter months, it can be due to the lack of humidity in the air. Meanwhile, a dry cough can also be a sign of an infection like a cold or the flu. Inflammation in the lungs or throat caused by bacteria or a virus can trigger the coughing reflex. While a dry cough typically isn’t serious, if it persists longer than a few days you might want to seek medical care to rule out a more worrisome infection.

What is a Wet Cough?
While a dry cough doesn’t involve mucus production, a wet cough does the exact opposite. Otherwise known as a “chest cough,” a wet cough sounds deeper and heavier. Often, each fit of coughing produces mucus that the person is able to spit out. That’s because a wet cough is the body’s natural attempt to get excess mucus out of the lungs.  This type of cough occurs as the result of infection, such as the flu or a cold. It can also be a sign of pneumonia, which is more serious. In most cases, treating a wet cough with cough suppressant medications isn’t recommended. This only allows the mucus to build up in the lungs instead of being expelled. Instead, adequate hydration is key. Getting enough fluids will help thin and loosen the mucus, making it easier to cough it up. Ultimately, ridding the lungs of the mucus will also fix the cough.

What is Whooping Cough?
Many people have heard of whooping cough. This condition is also known as pertussis. It is typically caused by a bacterial infection and is far more severe than the two types previously discussed. Whooping cough can also result from severe asthma attacks, COPD, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. It causes uncontrollable, violent fits of coughing that can make it difficult to breathe. In between coughs, the person gasps, which produces a “whoop” sound. This is a frequent infection in young children and infants because the vaccination against pertussis is only available for those older than two months. Whooping cough is a sign of a highly contagious infection (in most cases), which means that preventing the spread of germs is even more important. Meanwhile, since it is a sign of a serious medical condition, any experiencing whooping cough should seek medical care as soon as possible.

What is a Barking Cough?
In some cases, a cough might sound more like a seal noise than a human noise. That is known as a barking cough and results from inflammation of the upper airway. More specifically, a barking cough occurs when the larynx (the vocal cord area) is affected. It is also known as a characteristic sign of croup, a viral infection that causes swelling in this region. This is more common in children but can develop in adults. In severe cases, the inflammation may cause the person to gasp between coughs. While most cases of a barking cough or croup can be treated at home, seeking medical care isn’t a bad idea. The doctor can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to help combat the swelling of the airways.

No Matter the Cough, Velocity Urgent Care is Here to Help
Regardless of what kind of cough you are suffering from, Velocity Urgent Care has your back. Our 14 locations across Virginia have convenient walk-in hours to fit your schedule. You can also reserve your spot online ahead of time to skip the wait. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff will provide the treatment you need to control your cough symptoms and get you feeling better. We are the exclusive in-network provider for several local insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible. All Velocity Urgent Care locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. To find out more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.