This time of year, it seems like almost everyone has a cough — and once you catch a cough, it can be hard to get rid of.

But when does a normal winter annoyance turn into something you should worry about?

Here are 5 warning signs that you should get that cough checked out by a medical professional.

  • Your cough comes with unexplained weight loss. When these symptoms appear together, they could signal a dangerous progressive disease like tuberculosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • A barking noise associated with your cough. A barking or whooping noise could mean that you have adult-onset whooping cough, which can be serious if left untreated. 
  • If you’re a non-smoker and your cough lasts more than a couple of weeks. A chronic cough that isn’t associated with an illness like a cold or flu can be a warning sign of some cancers.
  • You are coughing up strange phlegm or blood. If it alarms you when you cough it up, get it checked out.
  • During a coughing fit, you become short of breath. This could be a warning sign for a number of serious conditions like COPD and even HIV. Get checked out as soon as you can.

Sources:

The Washington Post

Prevention

Merck Manual

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