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What is a dry cough?

WFMY News 2 has received this question many times this past week. We spoke with a doctor to try to help you define your symptoms.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Plain and simple, the coronavirus symptoms are difficult to differentiate from a common cold or allergies.

With a legendary allergy season on the horizon, people have asked for a clear definition of coronavirus symptoms, specifically the dry cough.

"In the most simple terms, a dry cough is when you're not producing any flem or not coughing anything up. It's just dry!"  Tamieka Howell M.D., a family physician in the Triad said.

Dr. Howell said the symptoms of coronavirus are shared with the common cold and allergies. This is why using the other symptoms of fever and shortness of breath the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services describes can be helpful in pinpointing whether or not you need to check in with your doctor.

RELATED: Should I get tested for the coronavirus COVID-19?

"There really isn't a way to discern the difference," Dr. Howell said, "Ask yourself, big picture, what's going on?" 

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Remember facts, not fear when talking about the coronavirus. You should take the same measures recommended by health leaders to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses. That means washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and covering coughs and sneezes.

RELATED: Facts Not Fear | What you need to know about the COVID-19 outbreak


It is important to make sure the information you are getting about the coronavirus is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. Be careful not to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media.

For more information visit the CDC OR NCDHHS


The state also has a special hotline set up where you can call 2-1-1 or 866-462-3821 for more information on the coronavirus. You can also submit questions online at ncpoisoncontrol.org or select chat to talk with someone about the virus.

You can also text keyword VIRUS to WFMY News 2 at 336-379-5775 to find out more information.

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