We all have suffered from a cough at some point in our lives. Although coughing may not be worrisome, a persistent cough can interfere with your daily activities and reduce the quality of your life. You will be surprised to know, just like other reflexes, coughing protects our body.
When an irritant or allergen enters our airways, cough, our body’s natural reflex leads to a rapid expulsion of air through our breathing passage, thus clearing the irritant from our throat and lungs.
TYPES OF COUGHS
Coughs can be classified into different types based on the distinct sound of the cough, type of phlegm or mucus, and the duration and time of the cough. The different types of coughs are –
Acute cough can last for about 3 weeks or less. It is usually caused by a viral infection of the upper or lower respiratory tract.
Subacute cough is a cough that lasts for about 3 to 8 weeks.
Chronic cough lasts longer than 8 weeks. It is usually caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), upper airway cough syndrome (UACS), asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis (NAEB).
Refractory cough is a subtype of chronic cough. This type of cough lasts even after medical treatment. Refractory cough occurs after a person suffers from a viral infection.
A wet cough is also known as a productive cough. This type of cough involves the secretion of mucus.
A dry cough is also known as a non-productive cough. This type of cough does not involve the secretion of mucus.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a respiratory infection caused by the bacteria, Bordetella pertussis. The common symptoms of whooping cough are runny nose, red or watery eyes, congested nose, fever, and cough. Generally, it may take 7 to 10 days for symptoms to appear.
In the case of wheezing, the breathing action leads to a high whistling sound or wheezing. This sound is caused due to blockage or narrowing of the airways.
Asthma causes the airways in the lungs to be swollen and inflamed. This in turn makes the lungs more susceptible to allergens and results in persistent cough.
When an infection of an upper airway (croup) blocks the upper airway, it results in a barking cough.
CAUSES OF COUGH
SOME OF THE COMMON CAUSES OF COUGH INCLUDE
Allergens or irritants, such as pollen, dust, and smoke
Medical conditions, such as cold, flu, pneumonia, and asthma
COMPLICATIONS OF COUGHING
A severe or persistent cough can lead to several complications such as
Disruption of sleep
Loss of urinary bladder control
HOW TO MANAGE COUGH?
Determining the cause of cough is important for treatment. Your doctor can determine the reason for your cough, and prescribe you appropriate medication to enable cough relief.
WHEN TO SEE
Cough is one of the most common symptoms during the flu season. However, consult your doctor if you suffer from the following symptoms
Coughing up blood
Sweat at night
Excess mucus or sputum production
COUGH: WHAT TO EXPECT?
Cough can be caused due to various reasons. In most cases, the cough is harmless and may be resolved by simple treatments. However, if you have a prolonged cough, it’s best to consult a doctor. In case of severe symptoms, such as chest pain, blood in cough, or difficulty in breathing, seek immediate medical help.