Cough and its causes: What is cough and how to recognize your cough ?

Coronavirus is around and increases the adversity of coughing. A slight cough these days is considered quite worrying due to the pandemic emerging this season. To top it all , the winter months this season is making an add on to increase the problem of common cold and cough. The cough during this winter season or season change of sudden drop of temperature all
around the world is gaining momentum. So read this article if you have a slight cough which is a red flag for your condition.

Do you have a nagging cough and looking out for a solution?

Remember cough for a minute or two means something wrong is gone in the windpipe, cough for a day or two means you have catched flu, and cough for a week means you have bronchitis or allergies.

Chronic cough interrupts sleep, impairing concentration and work performance. In this age of scary new viruses, social interactions may suffer.


Cough is a common physiologic reflux action and an automatic reaction to clear your throat. The cough reflex protects the airways of the lung.However it is important to seek medical attention if you have cough for more than 3 weeks. You may cough if it chokes your food or enters your windpipe instead of going down the food pipe which is the oesophagus Or you may
cough if you are breathing chemicals and pollutants.

Types of cough:

Type of coughTime limit
Acutemeaning it lasts for less than 3 weeks
Subacuteif it lasts for 3 – 8 weeks
Chronicit lasts for longer than 8 weeks.

How does cough affect us ?

Cough affects all of us and we need to clear our airways. Acute cough improves after one weeks and the most common cause is viral infection. Viral infection can affect anyone but mostly children are more prone to viral infection which is 5 – 6 times/week especially in winter months.

Common causes of cough

1. Upper Respiratory tract infection:

These are common causes of acute cough due to infection or virus .They almost get better within a week .Symptoms may go by 3 weeks.

2. Lower Respiratory tract infection

These can lead to serious lung infection such as bronchitis and pneumonia . These conditions are caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Bronchitis : It is the infection of large airways called the bronchi. It commonly takes 2-3 weeks for the cough to completely clear. This is caused by inflammation of airways which results in infection and may take 3 weeks to settle.
Pneumonia : Pneumonia is inflammation of lung tissue. It is usually due to infection and tends to be more severe than bronchitis. Cough , loss of weight , headaches , chills , fever and sweating are some of the symptoms. Coughing with a lot of phlegm is more likely to happen with pneumonia .The phlegm may be yellow coloured or green coloured.There may be streaks of blood. You may have sharp pain in the chest as the infection involves the pleura and there may be shortness of breath. Crackles may be heard with a stethoscope.
Asthma : This leads to wheeze , breathlessness and cough especially in cold air and exercise.
Irritants: If you smoke chemical fumes it may cause difficulty in breathing .
Post nasal drip : This is a condition where mucus in the throat drips down the back of the throat when you lie down. It can be caused by anything which causes your nose to produce more mucus like allergies, hay fever and nasal polyp Side effects of medication: ACE inhibitor medicines. Which care cause to treat high blood pressure can cause cough COPD Chronic Obstructive Lung disease:It is a long term condition of the lungs where the flow of air to the lungs is restricted.
Emphysema : It is a condition in which the alveoli (air sacs are damaged ). The walls of the air sac weaken and rupture creating larger spaces instead of many smaller ones. This reduces the surface area of lungs and results in less oxygen to the lungs. Tuberculosis:It is a contagious infection that affects the lungs. Irritants such as cigarette smoke.

Rare causes of cough:

Acid reflux: When there is reflex

A foreign body: Food can go down the wind pipe instead of the food pipe. Other objects can be
inhaled especially by children.
Lung cancer: Causes in smokers.
Cystic fibrosis: This is an inherited condition that affects the lungs and causes chronic cough. Pneumothorax: this condition occurs out of the blue in which the air gets trapped between the lung and the chest wall due to chest injury or lung disease. You may be breathless with sharp stitching pain. Inspiration becomes difficult.
Sarcoidosis: It is the condition in which there are tiny lumps known as granulomas in the lungs or may develop at various sites in the body . It affects lungs and lymph nodes. It is a very rare problem.

Bronchiectasis: A condition in which there is widening of the airways of lungs and producing extra mucus. It is genetic and the bronchial tubes if the lungs and damage widened and thickened.

Pulmonary embolism : a blood clot in the lungs.

Red flags to note
● Coughing up blood
● Weight Loss
● Night sweats
● Breathlessness


Add a new cause CORONAVIRUS : If you have dry or wet cough with shortness of breath and if you are “hungry for air “ with fever of 100 degree F for more than 3 days, you need to be alert and get yourself tested.


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