What are the Different Types of Cough
Sshhhh….you know how irritating it is when someone is coughing uncontrollably while you are in the movie theater. Until it happens to you and you have to get up and leave because you know how obnoxious you sound, you may not understand. But, don’t worry, it will happen to you if it hasn’t already because we are all susceptible to catching that nasty cough.
Coughing is one of the body’s protective mechanisms to keep the respiratory system clear as it helps to clear airways of mucus and foreign particles. A cough is the expulsion of air from the passages of the respiratory tract. When the nerve endings that run from the back of our throat to our lungs become irritated, it results in a cough.
Certain medical conditions can cause a cough. Sometimes coughs are not controllable and come in spasms, usually the result of viral illnesses such as the cold or flu. The type of cough you have and how long it lasts depends on the cause.
Wet and Wild
A wet, or chesty cough is also called productive because it expels mucus or phlegm from the airways. Yucky, but it does clear the airways. Often, these types of coughs are a result of a cold or flu, or bronchitis and probably will be accompanied by cold symptoms such as a stuffy nose and sore throat. Bronchitis is usually caused by a virus and develops after you have a cold. If the wet cough accompanies a fever, chills, and shortness of breath, it might be a more serious condition, like pneumonia and you should consult your physician.
A tickly cough does not produce any mucus so it is called a non-productive cough. Usually, something is irritating your throat and stimulates the cough reflex. For example, conditions like hay fever, postnasal drip, and allergies sometimes produce a tickly cough as they cause inflammation in the respiratory system.
Must Be My Nerves
Sometimes, a dry cough may arise from feelings of nervousness or when you are under stress. For example, you might be at a job interview and find that you all of the sudden have to keep clearing your throat and coughing. A dry cough that lingers can be a sign of asthma, especially if your cough appears mostly at night and ends with a rattle or wheeze.
Just Like the Energizer Bunny
Just like the Energizer Bunny, a persistent cough keeps going and going and can last for more than three weeks. Either a productive or a non-productive cough can be persistent. If it is a productive cough, it might be chronic bronchitis which is consistent inflammation of the airways. A chronic, hacking cough that produces mucus could be COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an illness related to smoking. In either case, when a cough persists for a prolonged amount of time it’s time to see your doctor.
Whoop, There it Is
Whooping cough is a very distinctive cough caused by Pertussis. Initial symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, but is then followed by weeks of serious coughing fits. After the coughing, a high-pitched whoop or gasp follows as the person tries to breathe in. While this disease used to be extremely rare due to vaccines, it has been on the upswing in the last few years.
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