Coughing is an important way to keep your throat and airways clear. But too much coughing may mean you have a disease or disorder.
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:
Common causes of coughing are:
Other causes include:
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 and other triggers.
Call 911 if you have:
Call your doctor right away if a person with cough has any of the following:
The health care provider will ask about your cough, including:
The health care provider will examine your ears, nose, throat, and chest.
Kraft M. Approach to the patient with respiratory disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 83.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial Team.
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