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When to See a Doctor

You don't need medical care for the average cough or sore throat. You often just need to give your body time to recover. Most are caused by viruses, which antibiotics can’t treat.

However, some coughs and sore throats do need help from a doctor. You could be dealing with something more serious.

If you have a cough with any of these symptoms, see a doctor:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood, bloody mucus, or pink foamy mucus
  • Coughing up green, tan, or yellow mucus
  • Fever, chills, or chest pain when you breathe deeply

If you have a sore throat lasts longer than a week or a sore throat with any of these symptoms, see a doctor:

  • Severe pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Fever over 100.4 F
  • Swollen glands
  • White patches on your throat or tonsils
  • Rash

These are signs that it might be a bacterial infection like strep throat, which can be treated with antibiotics. Or it could be another condition, like acid reflux, and you may need additional treatment.

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