Before I start talking about the different types of coughs, we first have to understand what a
cough truly is. A cough is a reflex action to clear your airways of mucus and irritants such as
dust or smoke.
Most of the time a cough is benign and is rarely anything serious. Most coughs will go away within 3 weeks and oftentimes don’t require any intervention. Now that we know what a cough is I will be explaining the different types. A dry cough means that you are not producing any phlegm (thick mucus).
A productive cough means that you are producing phlegm to help clear the airways. A cough is further divided into new and chronic. Short-term coughs are typically caused by upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), lower respiratory tract infections (LTRI), allergies, inflammation and inhalation of toxic material (dust and smoke).
URTI usually affects the throat, windpipe and sinuses. Some well known examples are the cold, flu, laryngitis, sinusitis and whooping cough in unvaccinated patients. Lower respiratory tract infections are typically caused by acute bronchitis and pneumonia. Allergies that present with a cough are allergic rhinitis and hay fever.
Additionally, a flare up of chronic conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or chronic bronchitis can cause a short-term cough. In rare cases, a short-term cough can be the first sign of a health condition.
Long-term coughs are typically caused by respiratory tract infection, asthma, allergy, smoking, bronchiectasis, postnasal drip, GERD, and medication such as ACE inhibitors used for
hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
In most cases, your doctor will be more concerned with the type of phlegm you are producing instead of whether or not you are producing any phlegm at all. In rare cases, long-term coughs can be the first sign of a serious health condition like lung cancer, heart failure and TB. The point is, don’t ignore your cough and always ask your medical provider if you have questions.
This article created by Ms. Deb Dooley.
There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.
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April 8, 2023
November 8, 2023