Coughing – A brief summary

What is a Cough?

A cough is said to be a natural reflex of the human body which helps to clear the airways of lung irritants (like mucus), to stave off infections. It is an infrequent action to clear the throat but there are many conditions which can cause more frequent bouts of coughing.

What are the different types of coughs?

  • Dry or Wet cough (a chesty cough)
  • Productive (one that produces mucus) or non-productive (one that doesn’t produce mucus).
  • Chesty coughs are usually productive while dry coughs are usually non-productive.

What is a Dry Cough?

Excessive mucus is not associated with this type of cough. It can be treated with cough suppressants.

What is a Chesty Cough?

It is associated with excessive mucus in the lungs and airways. Due to this excessive mucous in the airway passages, it is difficult to expectorate. This is commonly treated with an expectorant which helps to clear the thickness of the mucous & the cough is more productive.

What are the main causes of a cough?

There are many things that could cause a cough. Coughing actually occurs when foreign particles enter the airways and the nerve endings become irritated. As a result, the body reflexively responds with a cough to clear the airways and protect the lungs.

The various conditions which initiate a cough are:

  • Virus & bacterial infection
  • Smoking
  • Clearing the throat
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Damage of the vocal cords
  • Postnasal drip
  • Medicine initiated cough etc.

How long does a cough last?

  • An acute cough lasts for less than three weeks
  • A sub-acute cough lasts between 3 to 8 weeks
  • A chronic cough lasts more than eight weeks

If the condition is not improved after a few weeks, it is suggested to consult with a doctor to detect & understand the medical condition.

How can I treat a cough?


  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Elevating the head with extra pillows before sleeping
  • Cough drops for soothing the throat
  • Gargle with lukewarm salt water
  • Avoiding smoke & dust
  • Good, natural resources like honey and ginger treat cough

Medical Care:

According to nature & symptoms, the treatment varies. Usually, cough suppressants, expectorants, antihistamines, nasal decongestants etc. are referred by the doctors.

It is always suggested to consult with a doctor before taking any medications.

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