January 14, 2013

How Long Does it Take for a Cough to Clear Up?

Hypothetically speaking, how long would it take for a cough to clear up if a person comes down with an acute respiratory infection?

According to a telephone survey of 493 adults, the lay-public expect the cough to clear up in 7 to 9 days.

Now, is this one week guess actually true?

Not at all... In reality, it takes about 17.8 days on average.

This number was determined on a recent study that reviewed 19 prior studies that determined how long a cough lasts for.

It should also be mentioned that taking antibiotics does little to shorten this duration, especially given most upper respiratory infections are due to viruses.

In any case, the disconnect between patient expectations and reality in cough duration probably leads to some frustration between physicians and their patients.

How Long Does a Cough Last? Comparing Patients’ Expectations With Data From a Systematic Review of the Literature. Annals of Family Medicine. doi: 10.1370/afm.1430 Ann Fam Med January/February 2013 vol. 11 no. 1 5-13

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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