The reflex movement to clear the respiratory airways is known as cough. Cough helps to keep the airways clean; however severe and prolonged cough is very irritating and is an indication of some diseases. Cough may be productive (containing sputum) or dry (without mucus). These types of cough are important in establishing the cause.

Cough may be acute or chronic. Acute cough last for about a couple of weeks and is usually associated with some infection. Chronic cough is long lasting, remaining for more than three weeks and occurs due to a prolonged illness.


Cough may be caused by:

  • Respiratory infections

  • Asthma

  • Chronic obstructive lung diseases

  • Smoking

  • Gastroesophageal reflux

  • Lung disorders like bronchiectasis

  • Lung tumors

  • Lung infections

  • Sinusitis

  • Post nasal drip

  • Drugs like ACE inhibitors


Frequent expulsion of air with force that leaves you exhausted is the main complication. There is a wheezing sound associated with cough. The associated symptoms are linked with throat due to excess straining of throat. The remaining symptoms may vary and are caused by underlying factors or disease.


Cough is something about which patients are aware. However, medical diagnosis in cough is aimed to find the underlying cause.

A medical history covering the different aspects of cough like frequency, productive or nonproductive, sputum color, and time of intense cough and stimulants of cough can help reach the underlying cause.


The treatment of cough is dependent on the cause of cough. However, in most of cases over the counter medications like dextromethorphan, taking plenty of water, application of throat soothing gels and using cough lozenges is good enough to treat the condition.

In severe cases, an advanced level of treatment is needed to prevent the cough agony and tissue damage. Antibiotics are usually required in most cases as infections are common cause of cough. Irritant foods like spices should be avoided in order to prevent the exacerbation of cough.