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Ask the Doc: I know my persistent cough isn't related to Covid-19 – so should I be worried?

By Philip Murray

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A persistent cough over three weeks should definitely be checked out.
A persistent cough over three weeks should definitely be checked out.

I've had a persistent cough for more than three weeks, but I know it isn't Covid-19.

I don't want to bother my GP with this, what should I do?

If you’re aged 40-plus and have a persistent new or different cough for three weeks or more, contact your GP practice now.

Similarly, if you’re aged 40-plus and have recently tested negative for Covid-19 yet your symptoms – including a cough – are persisting for more than three weeks, you should contact your GP practice.

While it’s probably nothing to worry about, a quicker diagnosis can mean less worry. A cough can be caused by lots of different things, such as a recent viral illness, medications, acid reflux and rarely cancer. If cancer is suspected and confirmed, more treatment options are available if it’s found early. Cancer treatment has been a priority throughout the pandemic and will continue to be so moving forward.

If in doubt, contact your GP practice for help and advice. Visit www.getcheckedearly.org for more information.

Question: What causes swollen glands?

Swollen glands are usually caused by a relatively minor viral or bacterial infection, including:

a cold


glandular fever

a throat infection

an ear infection

a dental abscess

cellulitis (a skin infection)

The glands in the affected area will often become suddenly tender or painful. You may also have additional symptoms, such as a sore throat, cough, or fever.

These infections usually clear up on their own, and the swollen glands will soon go down. You will normally just need to drink plenty of fluids, rest and relieve the symptoms at home using over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

If you do have a new continuous cough, fever or change in smell and/or taste please arrange to have a test for coronavirus. Please also seek medical attention if your symptoms are not improving with simple measures after a few days, oryour swollen glands don't improve after three weeks.

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