If you or a family member has a persistent or worsening cough, get to the emergency room, as it can be serious; here’s what’s involved.

A sudden-onset cough, or one that develops relatively rapidly, that persists or worsens is cause to get to the emergency room.

When my mother developed a cough with phlegm that sounded horrible and after several days, was only worse, I took her to the ER, suspecting pneumonia.

My mother was taken to a room in the ER, and soon the doctor appeared. The doctor asked her many questions.

If you go to the ER with a cough, the doctor will ask a lot of questions. This includes if you have symptoms other than the cough such as fever or chills.

This helps guide the doctor in suspecting viral versus bacterial pneumonia.

The doctor ordered a chest X ray for my mother, then had the nurse come in and give her a five minute albuterol treatment, in which she breathed into and out of a hand-held tube device that expelled vapors.

Vitals were taken, but a blood test was not taken. The doctor seemed very sure that the coughing was either from pneumonia or bronchitis.

In fact, after listening with a stethoscope, he said he heard wheezing, which he thought was likely caused by bronchitis.

The chest X ray showed “a little” pneumonia. The doctor then prescribed an antiobic called Levoquin.

She was given one 500 mg pill right there (about 10 p.m.), then discharged with an albuterol inhalation pump.

The ER visit wasn’t that long, but of course, length of stay will depend on how busy the emergency room is, and whether a patient gets “bumped” by an incoming patient with a more serious condition.

The ER facility need not be a hospital; it can be an urgent care facility, which is fully equipped to deal with cases of pneumonia.

An ER visit for a bad cough is well-worth the time investment; a bad cough that goes untreated can turn out to be pneumonia, which the Centers for Disease Control says kills about 50,000 Americans a year.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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Top image: Shutterstock/ Stockbakery
Sources:
my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/disorders/aorta_marfan/aneurysm_aorta.aspx
cdc.gov/Features/Pneumonia/