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The best plan for follow-up care for a cough of any nature is to discuss when and where follow-up should occur with a doctor, or the doctor from the emergency department. Acute coughs typically get better on their own and often will not need follow-up. Many chronic coughs will take weeks to months to improve or resolve even when treatments are followed closely. Follow-up should be arranged based on this time schedule. For coughs that do not improve with standard treatments, referral to a specialist may be needed to decide the cause and best treatment.
Prevention of a cough is based on avoiding the medical problems that cause cough.
The most important aspect of prevention is to stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke, particularly for people with asthma, chronic lung disease, and environmental allergies.
For people with GERD, prevention is aimed at diet modification, sleeping with the head of the bed elevated, and taking all medications as prescribed.
For any person who is on medication for a chronic lung disease, the best prevention is strict adherence to the doctor's prescribed treatments.
The prognosis for a cough will vary depending on the underlying cause. After the cause has been addressed, most acute coughs will get better within 2-3 weeks. People who smoke and have a cough can expect a longer time period before the cough resolves. People with chronic cough often have more varied results, and people with chronic lung disease often have periods of resolution in addition to periods of worsening of the cough. Again, smoking will make a chronic cough last longer and should be avoided.
Medically reviewed by Joseph Palermo, DO; American Osteopathic Board Certified Internal Medicine
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2016
Manuel Hernandez, MD
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