What symptoms of a cough are cause for concern (when should I call my doctor)?

You might get more specific directions from your healthcare provider if you, or your child, has a chronic disease, such as asthma. In general, call your healthcare provider if you have a cough that will not go away and these symptoms:

  • Wheezing.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Phlegm (also called sputum), especially phlegm that is yellow, green, or bloody.

If you have a cough and seem to be choking, cannot breathe well, or if you see a lot of blood, call 911 or go to an emergency room.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/30/2018.


  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Cough. Accessed 4/4/2018.
  • Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education. Disease Management. Cough. Accessed 4/4/2018.
  • National Institute of Health. News in Health. Cough Culprits. Accessed 4/4/2018.
  • Cough. In: Papadakis MA, McPhee SJ. eds. Quick Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2017 New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • Maselli D, Anzueto A. Chapter 24. Cough. In: Henderson MC, Tierney LM, Jr., Smetana GW. eds. The Patient History: An Evidence-Based Approach to Differential Diagnosis New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2012.

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