Home Symptoms Cough – Causes, Treatments & When To See The Doctor

Cough – Causes, Treatments & When To See The Doctor


Coughing is a natural reflex that clears mucus and foreign irritants from your throat. While everyone coughs to clear their throat now and again, a variety of diseases might cause coughing to become more regular.

Coughing can be rather intense at times. Coughing for an extended period of time might irritate the lungs and lead to increased coughing. Sleeplessness, dizziness or fainting, migraines, urine incontinence, vomiting, and even broken ribs are all possible side effects.

Types of Cough

Coughing is a healthy and common occurrence. A cough that lasts more than a few weeks or produces discolored or bloody mucus may suggest a medical problem that requires treatment.

  • Acute Cough: This lasts for less than three weeks. Within two weeks, most coughing episodes will clear up or at least greatly improve.
  • Subacute Cough: A subacute cough is defined as one that lasts three to eight weeks and improves by the end of that period.
  • Chronic Cough: This is persistent and lasts longer than eight weeks.

Causes of Cough

Common causes of cough include:

Respiratory tract infection

A respiratory tract infection is the most common cause of coughing.

Viruses are the most common cause of respiratory tract infections, which can last anywhere from a few days to a week. Flu-related infections can take a little longer to resolve and may require medications.


Coughing is frequently caused by smoking. When you smoke, you almost always get a chronic cough with a particular sound. It’s commonly referred to as a smoker’s cough.


Coughing may result as a side effect of some drugs, but it is not common. Coughing can be caused by angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which are routinely used to treat high blood pressure and cardiac diseases.


Asthma is one of the most common causes of coughing in children. Asthmatic coughing is usually accompanied with wheezing, so it’s easy to spot.

The use of an inhaler should be used to treat asthma exacerbations. As children get older, they may be able to overcome their asthma.

Other causes of cough include:

  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • Choking (especially in children)
  • Laryngitis
  • Bronchiectasis (a chronic lung condition in which abnormal widening of bronchial tubes inhibits mucus clearing)
  • Bronchiolitis (especially in young children)
  • Emphysema
  • Acute sinusitis (nasal and sinus infection)
  • Croup (especially in young children)
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Lung cancer
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in an artery in the lung)
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) exacerbation — worsening of symptoms
  • Heart failure

When To See The Doctor

It’s a good idea to see a doctor if a cough lasts longer than three weeks without improving.

In most situations, there will be nothing dangerous underlying the cough, but a chronic cough can be an indication of something serious, such as lung cancer or heart failure.

Other reasons to seek medical advice include:

  • The cough is getting worse.
  • There are swelling or lumps present in the neck region.
  • Weight loss.
  • Severe coughing.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Permanent changes in the sound of the voice.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fevers that are not getting better.

Treatment of Cough

The treatment for a cough is determined by the cause of the cough. Your doctor may give antibiotics or antiviral medications to treat infections. He or she may prescribe a proton pump inhibitor for GERD.

A cough might be relieved by drinking water. Water can also be used to ease a cough by adding it to the air with a vaporizer or taking a steamy shower.

Coughs can also be relieved by quitting smoking and avoiding other irritants. Medicines, smoking, and other allergens are examples of irritants.

Cough medicine is often used only when the cough is severe, causes a lot of discomfort, disrupts sleep, and is not associated with any of the potentially dangerous symptoms listed above. Follow the dosing recommendations if you’re taking cough medicine.

The symptoms of cough and cold are treated with over-the-counter cough and cold drugs, not the underlying condition. These medicines haven’t been shown to work any better than inert medicine, according to research.  More importantly, these drugs may have dangerous negative effects, including lethal overdoses in children under the age of two.


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