Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Can a herpes outbreak cause one to cough?"


I tested positive for the herpes virus several months ago after I had a lesion appear on the head of my penis. I just now began to have my first outbreak since that time, and it is coinciding with a dry cough that doesn't seem connected to any cold symptoms. Could the cough be caused by the herpes outbreak?


Having an active herpes infection can bring about some very distressing symptoms. A dry cough is not a typical symptom of an active herpes infection. However, it is possible that the two are related.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Primary care-doctors near you

Let me explain Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. It causes painful burning ulcers that come and go during times of stress or other times when the immune system is not working as well as it is supposed to. In your case, I think that your cough may be related to being run down or another viral infection that occurred at the same time as your herpes outbreak. With that said, herpes infections in patients with very low immune systems (AIDS patients or cancer patients getting chemo) can get whole body symptoms which may include cough. This is rare, and usually accompanies symptoms that would cause you to need to go to the hospital. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with you primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history of your symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. Perhaps you can discuss your situation and consider taking a medication such as valacyclovir to prevent outbreaks. Good luck.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.