Coughing is a natural reflex. Irritants present in the throat or lungs can exit the body through it. Through coughing, your body repairs and protects itself. Most of the time, we cough to clear our throat, but some conditions can lead to frequent coughing.

Most cough conditions will improve after 2 weeks. But you need medical attention if the cough persists longer. Additionally, you should seek medical advice immediately if you notice blood or a “barking” cough.

Different causes of cough

There are many reasons for coughing; let’s discuss them one by one.

Need to clear your throat

Usually, coughing occurs when our body wants to clear its throat. It is a reflexive reaction to clear mucus or dust particles from our airways. It allows us to breathe easily.

Such a cough is infrequent. However, it can increase if smoke particles surround you.


Colds and flu are the main causes of coughs. This happens because of respiratory tract infections. These infections usually last 1 or 2 weeks. If you started taking antiviral drugs within 2 days of infection, you will likely recover from the cough soon.


It is also a common cause of coughing. Smoking leads to a chronic cough with a distinct sound. It is also called smoker’s cough.


Cough is common in young children with asthma. Such a type of cough involves wheezing, which makes it easy to identify.

Asthma patients are usually treated with medication delivered by inhalers or nebulizers. Most children overcome asthma problems as they get older.

Other terms

Some other causes that can lead to a cough include:

  • vocal cord damage
  • Bacterial infections like whooping cough, pneumonia and croup.
  • Serious conditions like heart failure and pulmonary embolism.

Types of cough diagnosis

If your doctor is unable to determine the exact cause of the cough, there are specific diagnostic tests that include:

  • Pulmonary radiography: With this X-ray, your doctor can tell if your lungs are clear.
  • Allergy test: Blood and skin tests are done to find out about any allergic reactions.
  • Mucus analysis: This test can tell your doctor about any signs of bacteria or tuberculosis.

It’s very rare to have a cough related to heart problems, but your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram to check how well your heart is working.

In case of complexity, the tests below may be necessary:

  • CT scan: With this test, your doctor will know more about the chest and airways.
  • Monitoring of esophageal pH: If nothing becomes clear with a CT scan, your doctor may refer you to a lung specialist to perform esophageal pH monitoring.

Different types of cough treatment

Depending on the cause of the cough, different treatments are available. Many people believe in home remedies to treat coughs.

home remedies

If you’re coughing from the virus, it can’t be treated with antibiotics. You can get relief with the home remedies mentioned below

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Take an extra pillow to elevate your body while you sleep.
  • Soothe your throat with a salt water gargle. It will remove mucus from your body.
  • Add honey and ginger to hot tea to clear your airways.

Medical care

As part of medical care, your doctor will look down your throat, listen for the sound of coughing, and ask about the patient’s symptoms. Your doctor will prescribe oral medications if the cough is due to a bacterial infection.

Treatment of dry cough

A dry cough can make you feel uncomfortable. There are various medications that you can easily get from pharmacies to cure dry cough.


It is an over-the-counter medicine for dry cough. It can eliminate congestion in the sinuses and nose. When you come into contact with a virus, the lining of your nose swells up and blocks the passage of air. Decongestants constrict blood vessels. They minimize blood flow to swollen tissues. This process makes breathing easier. There are many decongestants available in the market, the most common among them are:

  • Oxymetazoline (Afrin)
  • Pseudoephedrine (swede)
  • Phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine)

What will happen if the cough is not treated?

Usually, even if you don’t treat your cough, you will get relief after 1 or 2 weeks. Cough does not cause serious harm to the body. But in some cases, coughing can lead to temporary complications like:

All of the above symptoms are rare. They will stop when your cough is gone.

How to prevent cough?

Although at some point a cough is necessary to clear your airways. But if you cough frequently, you can prevent such a condition.

Stop smoking

Smoking can lead to chronic cough. It is difficult to cure such cough conditions. The only option to get rid of such a cough is to quit smoking. After quitting smoking, you are less likely to have a chronic cough.

Dietary changes

According to research, if you include more fiber-rich fruits in your diet, it will free you from chronic respiratory problems like cough and phlegm. Also, if you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you should avoid eating at least 3 hours before bedtime. If you are having difficulty adjusting your diet, you can seek help from a dietitian.

Medical conditions

Keep away from patients with bronchitis. This will reduce your chances of catching the infection. Wash your hands frequently and never share your pillow, towel or utensils with the patient.

When is the emergency condition?

Here are some of the symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness or heaviness in the chest
  • Bluish lips
  • Confusion

How to prevent cough transmission?

Let’s discover some habits that you can use to prevent cough transmission:

Maintain good hygiene: You should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have soap, you can use hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol.

Cover your cough: Never cough into your hands. You can use tissue paper or your elbow.

Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth: All of these body organs are easy entry points for bacteria. This can further increase the infection.

Follow social distancing: You should maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet from others, especially in public places.

Self-quarantine: If you have cough or flu symptoms, you should stay home.


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