African Journal of Respiratory Medicine
Unveiling the Mystery of Cough: Understanding Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Opinion - (2023) Volume 18, Issue 5

Kamil Fader*
*Correspondence: Kamil Fader, Department of Pulmonology, Yale University, USA, Email:

Received: 02-Oct-2023, Manuscript No. ajrm-24-130518 ; Editor assigned: 04-Oct-2023, Pre QC No. ajrm-24-130518 (PQ); Reviewed: 18-Oct-2023, QC No. ajrm-24-130518; Revised: 23-Oct-2023, Manuscript No. ajrm-24-130518 (R); Published: 30-Oct-2023, DOI: 10.54931/1747-5597.23.18.104

Department of Pulmonology, Yale University, USA


Coughing is a natural reflex that helps clear the airways of irritants, mucus, and foreign particles, safeguarding the respiratory system from potential threats. While occasional coughing is normal and serves a protective function, persistent or chronic coughing can be indicative of underlying health issues. Let’s explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for coughing to shed light on this common yet often overlooked symptom. Coughing can be triggered by various factors, including: Common colds, influenza (flu), pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections can cause acute coughing due to inflammation and irritation of the respiratory tract. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, and exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mold can lead to chronic coughing as the body reacts to these triggers. Inhalation of smoke, pollutants, chemicals, or strong odors can irritate the airways and trigger coughing.


Acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus can irritate the throat and cause coughing, especially when lying down or after eating. Excess mucus dripping down the back of the throat from the nose or sinuses can stimulate coughing. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, interstitial lung diseases, and lung cancer can cause persistent coughing as a symptom of underlying respiratory pathology. Coughing itself is a symptom, but associated features may include: Acute cough typically lasts less than three weeks, while subacute cough persists for three to eight weeks, and chronic cough persists for eight weeks or longer. Cough may be dry (non-productive) or productive, producing mucus or phlegm. Cough intensity can vary from mild and occasional to severe and frequent, interfering with daily activities and sleep. Cough may be accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath, fatigue, or weight loss, depending on the underlying cause. Treatment of cough depends on its underlying cause: Over-the-counter cough suppressants (antitussives) such as dextromethorphan can help alleviate cough symptoms, particularly dry, non-productive coughs. Expectorants such as guaifenesin can help loosen and thin mucus, making it easier to cough up. Treating the underlying condition responsible for coughing is essential for long-term management. This may involve antibiotics for bacterial infections, antiviral medications for viral infections, corticosteroids for inflammation, bronchodilators for asthma or COPD, or acid-suppressing medications for GERD. Hydration, humidification, steam inhalation, saline nasal irrigation, and throat lozenges can provide relief from cough symptoms and soothe irritated airways. Identifying and avoiding triggers such as smoke, allergens, pollutants, or strong odors can help reduce coughing episodes. If cough persists for more than a few weeks, is severe or worsening, or is accompanied by concerning symptoms such as blood in the sputum, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, medical evaluation by a healthcare professional is recommended to rule out serious underlying conditions and determine appropriate treatment.


Coughing is a common symptom with a wide range of potential causes, from respiratory infections and allergies to chronic lung diseases and gastroesophageal reflux. While occasional coughing is usually harmless and self-limiting, persistent or chronic coughing may indicate an underlying health issue that requires medical attention. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for coughing is essential for effective management and optimal respiratory health. If you or someone you know experiences persistent or concerning cough symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and appropriate management.

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