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Most Coughs Take 3 Weeks to Clear Up


When stricken with cough and cold, most of us assume to be back to our bright eye, bushy-tailed selves within about a week’s time. However, scientists from the University of Georgia in Athens are cautioning sickies to have some patience. It seems the common cough takes about three weeks to clear up!

The study was meant to span the gap between the unrealistic expectations of patients who reach for antibiotics, and how long it realistically takes a cough to pass.

“We’re not trying to discourage people from getting care if they feel they need it,” says study lead, Mark Ebell, “but we want to give them the confidence to give themselves care in situations when it’s appropriate..[and make] efforts to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use…”

Ebell pointed to the fact that using antibiotics won’t do you any good. In fact, it only fuels drug resistance (meaning the body won’t respond to antibiotics when it really needs them), wastes money, and increase patient load and waiting times in medical clinics and health care facilities.

The study was conducted via 493 telephone surveys of adults in George. Participants were polled on topics such as how long they expect it to take for a cough to clear up and how long it actually takes before they visit a doctor for antibiotics.

Findings from the telephone interviews revealed that:

  1. The majority expect a cough to clear up within 7 to 9 days, even if they have a high fever and are coughing up yellow mucous.
  2. Scientists then reviewed 19 previous studies on severe coughs and found that, on average, it took 17.8 days for a cough to diminish.

The study findings create awareness and realistic expectations around the fact that if you are stricken with a cough and cold; you’ll probably be sick for about three weeks. Getting an antibiotic at any point during the course is not going to make it shorter.

However, Ebell notes that if there is blood in your cough, or the cough worsens after a month, you should call a doctor immediately. Otherwise, over-the-counter cough and cold remedies should out you on the road to recovery.

Source: Reuters

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