Coughing is a reflex that keeps your throat and airways clear. Although it can be annoying, coughing helps your body heal or protect itself. Coughs can be either acute or chronic. Acute coughs begin suddenly and usually last no more than 2 to 3 weeks. Acute coughs are the kind you most often get with a cold, flu, or acute bronchitis. Chronic coughs last longer than 2 to 3 weeks. Causes of chronic cough include:
- Chronic bronchitis
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Throat disorders, such as croup in young children
- Some medicines
Water can help ease your cough - whether you drink it or add it to the air with a steamy shower or vaporizer. If you have a cold or the flu, antihistamines may work better than non-prescription cough medicines. Children under four should not have cough medicine. For children over four, use caution and read labels carefully.
Diagnosis and Tests
- Bronchoscopy and Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL) (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Cough Culprits: What's the Difference Between Bronchitis and Pneumonia? (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Sputum Culture (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Tests for Lung Disease (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Also in Spanish
- Cough Headaches (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Marvels of Mucus and Phlegm: The Slime That Keeps You Healthy (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Illuminating Airway Nerve Structure and Function in Chronic Cough.
- Article: Performance evaluation of human cough annotators: optimal metrics and sex differences.
- Article: Utilization of spontaneous breathing trial, objective cough test, and diaphragmatic ultrasound...
- Cough -- see more articles