Is Every Cough A Sign Of COVID-19?


There are over 100 different contagious infections that can cause cough, and a year ago it wouldn’t be alarming. However, today the sole cause of cough is presumed to be only one disease - COVID-19.

COVID-19 symptoms emerge between 2 and 14 days after virus exposure. Coughing is an obvious early symptom that may indicate the presence of coronavirus in a patient's body. However, COVID-19 is not the only cause of coughs, they can be caused by a variety of other ailments and infections. As a result, it is critical to distinguish between an innocuous cough and a coronavirus cough. 

How To Tell If You Have COVID-19 Cough?

COVID-19 generally causes a dry cough that leaves you gasping for air. If you have shortness of breath and muscle pain, you may have a COVID-19 cough. The most typical symptoms of coronavirus are a fever with a cold or flu-like feeling, persistent dry cough, body ache, fatigue, and in severe cases, loss of smell and taste. Coronavirus attacks a person's respiratory system, infecting the lungs and their tissues. As the virus spreads, it fills the lung tissue with fluid, causing the body to struggle for oxygen, resulting in pneumonia-like coughing and difficulties breathing. Most coughs cure up within a week, but if you've been coughing for more than a week, see your doctor. If a person coughs continuously for more than an hour or has three or four such coughing episodes in a day, they may be infected with the coronavirus. If you already have a cough, being infected with coronavirus may aggravate it and lead to serious complications.

How Do You Tell The Difference Between A Dry Cough And A Wet Cough?

A dry cough, also known as non-productive cough, produces throat irritation and stiffness, making it difficult to breathe and swallow food. This cough begins in the back of the throat and makes a dry, gritty sound with no mucus. A dry cough is caused by inflammation in the respiratory tract. Viral infections or environmental factors can cause this throat inflammation. Dry cough was mentioned as a significant symptom by more than half of the COVID-19 patients.

On the other hand, a wet cough creates phlegm and forces mucus from your respiratory tract, giving you the sensation that something is trapped in your throat. Along with weariness and a runny nose, a wet cough may discharge blood into the mucus.

Both dry and wet coughs differ in terms of discomfort, severity, and noise. Dry coughs, on the other hand, tend to last longer than wet coughs. Depending on the circumstances, a dry cough can often change into a wet cough.

Is Coughing The Main Symptom Of COVID-19?

Cough is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, although it is not the only symptom that may be used to diagnose the pandemic-causing disease.

The significant symptoms of COVID-19 are listed below:

  • High fever
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Body pain
  • Contagious aggressive cough
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhoea
  • Breathlessness

The Bottom Line:

Although aggressive coughing is one of the primary signs of COVID-19, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all forms of coughing is the result of coronavirus infection. Look for other associated symptoms to ensure the real reason. If you have any doubts about your health, it’s best you consult your doctor.

Learn more about our Department of General & Internal Medicine here.

Dr Sudhir Prasad

Consultant – Pulmonologist & Sleep Medicine

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