Cough


Definition

Coughing is an important way to keep your throat and airways clear. But too much coughing may mean you have a disease or disorder.

Coughing

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Coughing

Some coughs are dry. Others are productive. A productive cough is one that brings up mucus. Mucus is also called phlegm or sputum.

Coughs can be either acute or chronic:

Causes

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Common causes of coughing are:

Other causes include:

Home Care

If you have asthma or another chronic lung disease, make sure you are taking medicines prescribed by your doctor.

Here are some tips to help ease your cough:

Medicines you can buy on your own include:

If you have seasonal allergies, such as hay fever:

If you have allergies year-round, cover your pillows and mattress with dust mite covers, use an air purifier, and avoid pets with fur and other triggers.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 if you have:

Call your doctor right away if a person with cough has any of the following:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. You will be asked about your cough. Questions may include:

The provider will examine your ears, nose, throat, and chest.

Treatment depends on the cause of the cough.

References

Chung KF, Mazzone SB. Cough. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 30.

Kraft M. Approach to the patient with respiratory disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 83.

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