Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health

Cough

What is a cough?

Triggers of coughing

Causes of coughing

Prevention / remedies / treatment for coughing

References

What is a cough?

A cough (tussis) is a throat-clearing reflex which helps clear substances that are irritating or blocking the breathing passages. Coughing is the body's way of removing secretions, irritants, foreign particles and microbes from the large breathing passages. The cough reflex is usually to clear a build-up of phlegm in the trachea. Mucous, food particles, irritation or a blockage in the lungs or upper airway passages can also be a trigger.

A cough has a distinctive sound. It can be dry and irritating (dry cough), or it may bring up mucus (productive cough).

Coughing can occur voluntarily or involuntarily. Frequent or chronic coughing usually indicates the presence of a disease. Coughing can have a sudden onset, or last for months or longer. Sometimes it can occur only at night, or only during the day.

With children, an occasional cough a few times a day is little cause for concern.

Triggers of coughing

Causes of coughing

Prevention / remedies / treatment for coughing

Coughing is a natural protective reflex, so suppressing a cough is not always a good idea, particularly if the cough is productive (bringing up phlegm).

Cough suppressants such as codeine or dextromethorphan are frequently prescribed, but have been demonstrated to have little effect. (1)

References

1. Pavord ID, Chung KF. Management of chronic cough. April 2008; Lancet 371 (9621): 1375-84.