Why do we cough? What are the real reasons behind your cough?

Why do we cough?
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Why do we cough? What are the real reasons behind your cough?

Why do we cough when we have flu, when we inhale smoke, dust etc. is something I always wondered. I have had cough many times.

You can safely say that almost every human on earth would have had some type of cough at some point. Cough is such a common ailment.

But why do we cough? Are all coughs same?



Does best medicine for dry cough work for other types of cough too?

There are many types of cough that come up due to many reasons. Some coughs last few minutes, some hours, some days and some coughs even last very long time.

The fundamental fact about a cough is that cough is body’s response to an irritant in the respiratory system. Cough is actually a defence to protect your body.

For example when excess mucus enters lungs, your body responds by triggering a cough. When you cough, the excess mucus gets expelled and you begin to feel better.

When you have a tickle in throat, your body responds with a cough to relieve you from the tickle.

This is why we cough and that is true for any type of cough.

What are common types of cough?

We can broadly classify cough into two as either productive cough or non-productive cough.

A productive cough is one that produces mucus or phlegm when you cough. Sometimes we refer to a productive cough as mucus cough or chesty cough.

A non-productive cough does not produce any mucus or phlegm. Sometimes we refer to a non-productive cough as dry cough or tickly cough.


Chesty cough

You have a chesty cough if you have a feeling that someone is squeezing your chest very hard.  Commonly, a chesty cough is a result of phlegm accumulation in lungs.

Chest congestion is another common symptom of a chesty cough.

A typical cause for a chesty cough could be an irritant such as dust, bacteria or a virus in your lungs.

Why do we cough when an irritant enters our airways?

Such irritants lead to an infection in lungs. Such infection leads to an inflammation of the airways and extra mucus in your lungs.

To expel the excess mucus from your lungs and help you feel better, your brain triggers a cough. That’s chesty cough.

When you have a productive cough, an expectorant can be the best medicine for cough of this type.

Mucus Cough

When you have a mucus cough your chest feels incredibly heavy.

In a healthy person, the body produces mucus in the linings of airways to protect the person from dust, bacteria and virus.

When you have a cold, your body produces even more mucus to trap the virus and bacteria. Your body produces more mucus to protect you from the cold virus.

But why do you cough when you have more mucus? With more mucus, your brain starts a cough to clear the respiratory system.

To feel better you may have to use something that can thin the mucus. It is lot easier to expel thin mucus than the thick mucus. Drinking lot of fluids can also help thin mucus.

So drinking lot of fluids is one type of mucus cough treatment.

Tickly Cough

A tickly cough causes irritation in your throat as if someone is tickling inside your throat. As a result, you may feel very uncomfortable and irritable while talking or eating.

Why do we cough and have a tickle in throat?

A tickly cough is commonly caused by an irritation in the throat. The irritated area may produce a constant feeling of tickle in the throat. The tickle causes a dry tickly cough.

Tickly cough is sometimes accompanied by a sore throat. Salt water gargling can work as cough suppressant when you have a tickly cough.

Hacking Dry Cough

This type of cough is generally very painful and intense. You feel it more in the throat than in the chest.

Why do we cough and feel pain in the chest?

A hacking dry cough is generally caused by an inflammation of the upper airways.

The main causes can be infections such as cold or flu. Sometimes pollutants such as dust, smoke or fumes can also trigger a hacking dry cough

Why do we cough? What causes each type of cough?

Most coughs are a result of cold or flu.

Other reasons for cough include a habit of smoking, an allergy like hay fever, an infection like bronchitis.

Some people cough because they have mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose.

Lung cancer is one of the more serious reasons for cough in some cases.

The causes short-term or acute coughs and long-term of chronic coughs can be very different.

Short-term Cough

A short-term cough is generally due to one or more of the below causes.

An infection in the upper respiratory tract like throat, wind-pipe or sinus. Examples include Common cold, flu, laryngitis, sinusitis or whooping cough.

An infection in the lower respiratory tract like lungs or lower airways. Examples include bronchitis or pneumonia.

An allergy like hay fever.

An episode when a long term condition such as asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or pneumonia flares up.

Exposure to pollutants like dust or smoke and breathing them in.

Sometimes a short-term cough can be the beginning of a chronic illness that may later lead to chronic cough.

Long-term Cough

A long-term or chronic cough  is generally due to one or more of the below reasons.

A long-term infection in the respiratory tract. Chronic bronchitis is a good example.

Asthma accompanied with wheezing, tight chest, breathlessness.

An allergy and ongoing exposure of the person to such allergens.

Long term smoking habit. Chronic cough from smoking may mean COPD too.

Bronchiectasis resulting in wider air passages in lungs.

Dripping mucus in throat as a result of rhinitis or sinusitis.

GERD or acid reflux where food and acid from stomach re-enter the food way above stomach.

A side-effect of medicines used for long term conditions such as hypertension or cardiovascular diseases.

Other more serious reasons like lung cancer, tuberculosis, or blood clots in lungs may also cause chronic cough in some cases.

Cough in Children

Many of the above reasons cause cough in children as they do in adults. However there are certain reasons for coughs as below  that are more common in children than adults.

Bronchiolitis – this is a mild respiratory tract infection with symptoms similar to those of common cold.

Croup – this produces a cough that sounds similar to barking. Also generally accompanied by a harsh sound when the child breathes in.

Whooping cough – this causes intense hacking cough sometimes accompanied by vomit and distinct whooping sound when the child breathes in.

It is important that you see a doctor and ask for the best medicine for cough if your cough is persistent.

Copyright Best Cough Medicine for Adults

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