Coughing is a reflex action by the body to get rid of irritants from your esophagus. When something like mucus, allergens, or pollen gets into your airway, the body responds by expelling a burst of air.
Although everyone experiences harmless coughs from time to time, coughing can be a symptom of illness and conditions. So, it is vital to know the characteristic of the cough to help you respond appropriately.
These characteristics help you know the cause and the possible cause of treatment.
A cough has different symptoms based on its occurrence.
A wet or productive cough is one that brings up mucus to your mouth. Cold and flu are the common causes of wet cough, but other conditions like pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma can also cause be a trigger. A productive cough develops slowly and is accompanied by a runny nose or fatigue.
Wet cough is either acute lasting less than three weeks or chronic lasting for more than eight weeks. The duration of the cough can be an indication of the cause, so pay attention.
A dry cough feels like a tickle in the throat and doesn’t produce mucus. This type of cough occurs when you have irritation or inflammation in the respiratory tract.
Upper respiratory infections like cold or flu are the causes of dry cough. The cough occurs differently in every person, but it can linger for several weeks after the flu has subsided. Other causes include asthma, allergies, sore throat, tonsillitis, medications, or sinusitis.
Whooping or paroxysmal cough causes intermittent attacks of violent coughs which can be exhausting, painful, and sometimes people struggle to breathe.
Bacteria is the primary cause of whooping coughs, but pneumonia, tuberculosis, or asthma can also be a cause.
Coughs can occur as a reflex reaction, or as a result of a disease and infections. The various causes of coughs include:
The cold and flu are the chief causes of respiratory tract infection which lasts for a few days or a week. Although the flu and cold symptoms subside on their own after a week or two, the cough will persist for longer and sometimes you may need antibiotics to clear up the bacteria.
The cough can be also be triggered by obstructed airways. Choking can be life-threatening and should be treated with urgency. Seek urgent care treatment when you notice signs of choking such as bluish skin, loss of consciousness, weak ineffective cough, panic, wheezing or whistling.
Smoking causes chronic coughs if you a daily smoker. When you smoke cigarettes or cigars, the chemical components can get stuck in the throat and lungs. The smoker’s cough is wet and it occurs differently; it may involve crackling or wheezing sounds.
Coughing can be a side effect of certain medications such as blood pressure drugs. The cough will stop when you discontinue the medications.
Asthma causes coughs in children. Asthma-related cough can either be wet or dry, but it is accompanied by a wheezing or whistling coughs. Other symptoms include chest tightness, fatigue, awakening from night coughs, shortness of breath.
Cough clears up within a week or two. However, if the coughing does not improve in this period you need to seek urgent care for coughs. Some symptoms to watch out for include fever, headaches, chest pains, drowsiness, confusion, or coughing with blood.
You can treat coughs in various ways depending on the cause. Self-care is crucial to get rid of the symptoms. So, keep yourself hydrated, rest, avoid irritants, and use a decongestant to unblock the airway. The doctor can also prescribe antibiotics to clear off the infection.