A physiological reflex whereby inhalation followed by exhalation is accompanied with violently forceful release of air involving the closure and opening of glottis is referred to as cough. Occurring due to a wide variety of physiological causes and conditions; cough can be both voluntary as well as involuntary. As a process geared to clearing the respiratory passage from mucus, irritants, pollutants, dust and foreign particles; coughing may be induced by infection, choking, smoking; as well as by physical disorders such as bronchitis, heart failure and tumors.

What are the causes of Cough?

  • The most common cause of cough lies in respiratory infection such as common cold, tuberculosis or pneumonia. Pertussis another infectious condition may also lead to cough.
  • Usually respiratory infection caused by virus leads to cough.
  • Recovery period following flu or influenza may also be marked by intense coughing of the dry type.
  • Allergic reaction of respiratory tract may also give way to coughing. Such a condition is technically described as 'bronchial hyper responsiveness'.
  • Coughing may occur owing to asthma.
  • Bronchitis may also lead to cough marked by a discharge of phlegm
  • Tobacco smoking which leads to the inflammation of respiratory tract also gives way to persistent coughing.
  • Besides tobacco smoking, inhalation of fumes also causes coughing.
  • Pollution also makes for coughing.
  • Sudden invasion of respiratory tract by foreign particles may cause coughing.
  • Gastroaesophegal illness such as acidity and heartburn may also lead to coughing.
  • Apart from these, certain serious conditions of lungs such as edema and tumors may also cause coughing.
  • Coughing may well be a condition of heart failure.
  • Presence of larger number of esoniphill in the blood count may also trigger cold and cough.
  • Lack of resistance can also be one of the causes responsible for triggering coughing.

What are the different types of Cough

  • According to nature of secretion or sputum released coughing may be differentiated. If it is not marked by the release of sputum or phlegm it is referred to as 'dry cough'.
  • If it is marked by the release of phlegm and secretion it is known as a productive one.
  • If it continues for more than eight weeks, it is called chronic cough. Asthma, bacterial bronchitis and chronic bronchitis may lead to long spells of coughing in adults as well as in children.
  • Coughing continuing for two to eight weeks is called 'sub acute cough'.
  • On the other hand it may be sudden in its occurrence if it persists less than three weeks.
  • It is worth mentioning that coughing can affect individuals belonging to different age groups with children being most prone to it on account of their greater susceptibility to viral infection.

Diagnoses of Cough

  • Usually while diagnosing the cause of cough, its underlying source or reason is determined.
  • The symptoms associated with coughs are studied.
  • Physicians usually try to ascertain if the cough is associated with other symptoms or if it is non specific- where there are no associated symptoms.
  • Further diagnostic measures involve throat culture ray and other associated investigations.

Symptoms of Cough

  • Cough is usually marked by loud and husky sound.
  • It may be dry or it may be accompanied by the discharge of phlegm and thick secretions.
  • Coughing may also involve sneezing, fever and running nose.
  • At times, face may become red with eyes looking watery.
  • Nasal and throat congestion may also be simultaneously present along with cough.
  • Coughing may be continuous making the ailing person extremely fatigued, as in whooping cough.
  • An infected person may look pale and blue on account of coughing.
  • In cases of cough being triggered by viral or bacterial causes, it takes three to twelve days for symptoms to completely manifest.

Treatment For Cough

  • Treatment of cough proceeds after determination of its underlying cause.
  • Cough syrups used previously usually does not form a part of the modern treatment.
  • Sometimes in cases of cough being triggered by viral or bacterial infection, antibiotics are prescribed in keeping with the nature of suspected infection.
  • Often Vitamin C and throat condiments which are soothing for the throat are prescribed.
  • Self care and tips to prevent cough
  • Vaccinations to children can prevent them from the fears of whooping cough.
  • Often caused by air borne virus and allergens, one needs to be cautious during seasonal changes.
  • Staying away from active as well as passive smoking will make you less prone to irritating coughs.
  • In case one is prone to allergies, use of humidifiers and room purifiers will come in handy.
  • Certain natural herbs and spices such as ginger, almonds, black pepper, honey and almonds play significant role with their medicinal properties to control coughing. Thus judicious use of the same can be resorted to, particularly in cases of cough following viral infection.
  • Similarly for coughing caused by bacteria or viral infection, gurgling and consumption of Vitamin C will prove to be effective in killing its phlegm content.