From WikiMD

This page contains changes which are not marked for translation.

Editor-In-Chief: Prab R. Tumpati M.D.. Founder, WikiMD and W8MD Weight Loss, Sleep and MedSpa Centers. Dr. Tumpati is board certified physician practicing sleep medicine, obesity medicine, aesthetic medicine and internal medicine. Dr. Tumpati’s passion is prevention rather than cure. As a physician with fellowship training in Obesity Medicine, Dr. Tumpati has a unique approach to wellness, weight loss, aesthetics with a focus on prevention rather than cure. Dr. Tumpati believes in educating the public on the true science and art of medicine, nutrition, wellness and beauty.

WikiMD Resources for Cough


Most recent articles on Cough

Most cited articles on Cough

Review articles on Cough

Articles on Cough in N Eng J Med, Lancet, BMJ


Powerpoint slides on Cough

Images of Cough

Photos of Cough

Podcasts & MP3s on Cough

Videos on Cough

Evidence Based Medicine

Cochrane Collaboration on Cough

Bandolier on Cough

TRIP on Cough

Clinical Trials

Ongoing Trials on Cough at Clinical

Trial results on Cough

Clinical Trials on Cough at Google

Guidelines / Policies / Govt

US National Guidelines Clearinghouse on Cough

NICE Guidance on Cough


FDA on Cough

CDC on Cough


Books on Cough


Cough in the news

Be alerted to news on Cough

News trends on Cough


Blogs on Cough


Definitions of Cough

Patient Resources / Community

Patient resources on Cough

Discussion groups on Cough

Patient Handouts on Cough

Directions to Hospitals Treating Cough

Risk calculators and risk factors for Cough

Healthcare Provider Resources

Symptoms of Cough

Causes & Risk Factors for Cough

Diagnostic studies for Cough

Treatment of Cough

Continuing Medical Education (CME)

CME Programs on Cough


Cough en Espanol

Cough en Francais


Cough in the Marketplace

Patents on Cough

Experimental / Informatics

List of terms related to Cough

Coughing is an important way to keep your throat and airways clear. However, excessive coughing may mean you have an underlying disease or disorder.

Some coughs are dry, while others are considered productive. A productive cough is one that brings up mucus. Mucus is also called phlegm or sputum.

Coughs can be either acute or chronic:

Acute coughs usually begin suddenly. They are often due to a cold, flu, or sinus infection. They usually go away after 2 to 3 weeks. Chronic coughs last longer than 2 to 3 weeks.

Common Causes

Besides recent upper airway infections such as the common cold and flu, other common causes of coughs include:

Allergies and asthma

Lung infections such as pneumonia or acute bronchitis Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis) Sinusitis leading to postnasal drip Lung disease such as bronchiectasis, interstitial lung disease, or tumors Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) Cigarette smoking Exposure to secondhand smoke Exposure to air pollutants ACE inhibitors (medications used to control blood pressure) If a child has a barking cough, see croup.

Home Care

Here are some tips to help ease your cough:

Cough lozenges or hard candy can help dry, tickling coughs. These should never be given to a child under 3 years old because they may cause choking. A vaporizer or steamy shower may help a dry cough by increasing the humidity in the air. Drink extra fluids to help thin the secretions in your throat and make them easier to cough up. Medications available without a prescription include:

Guaifenesin (like Robitussin) can help you bring up mucus. Drink lots of fluids if you take this medicine. Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can be used to clear a runny nose and postnasal drip. These should not be used if you have high blood pressure or for a child under 6 years old, unless prescribed by your doctor. Although coughing can be a troubling symptom, it is usually your body's way of healing. Recent expert recommendations advise against using cough suppressants in many situations. You may want to talk to your doctor before trying over-the-counter cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan (Vicks 44, Robitussin DM).

Do not expect a doctor to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections like colds or flu. Antibiotics do not work on viruses. Antibiotics also will not help coughs from allergies.

Call your health care provider if

Call 911 if you have:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Hives or swollen face or throat with difficulty swallowing
  • Call your doctor right away if you have:
  • Violent cough that begins suddenly
  • High-pitched sound (called stridor) when inhaling
  • Cough that produces blood
  • Fever (may indicate a bacterial infection requiring antibiotics)
  • Thick, foul-smelling, yellowish-green phlegm (may indicate a bacterial infection)
  • A history of heart disease, swelling in your legs, or a cough that worsens when you lie down (may indicate congestive heart failure)

vExposure to someone with tuberculosis

  • Unintentional weight loss or night sweats (may also indicate tuberculosis)
  • Cough longer than 10-14 days
  • Cough in an infant less than 3 months old
  • What to expect at your health care provider's office

In emergency cases, the patient will be treated first to stabilize the condition. After the condition is stable, the doctor will ask questions about your cough, including:

  • Are you coughing up blood? (How much, how often)
  • Do you bring up any mucus/sputum when you cough? What does it look like? Is it thick and hard to cough up? How much sputum is produced per day?
  • Is the cough severe? Is the cough dry?
  • Does the cough sound like a seal barking?
  • What is the pattern of the cough? Did it begin suddenly? Has it been increasing recently? Is the cough worse at night? When you first awaken?
  • How long has the cough lasted?
  • Is the cough worse when you are lying on one side?
  • Are there sudden periodic attacks of coughing with gagging and vomiting?
  • What other symptoms are present?
  • The physical examination will include emphasis on the ears, nose, throat and chest.

Diagnostic tests

  • Bronchoscopy
  • Lung scan
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Sputum analysis (if the cough produces sputum)
  • X-ray of the chest
  • Prevention

Don't smoke and stay away from secondhand smoke.

If you have seasonal allergies like hay fever, stay indoors during days when airborne allergens are high. If possible, keep the windows closed and use an air conditioner. Avoid fans that draw in air from outdoors. Shower and change your clothes after being outside. 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.

External links

Glossaries and dictionaries | Medicine portal | Health Topics | Health Encyclopedia | First Aid | Weight Loss | Drugs | Glossary of medicine | insurance | Glossary of health topics | Drug classes | Medicines | Dentistry portal | Medications portal | Pharmacology portal | Psychiatry portal | Rare diseases | List of health topics | USMLE
W8MD weight loss logo

Ad. Tired of being overweight?. W8MD's insurance Weight loss program can HELP*

Other languages:

Quick links: Medicine Portal | Encyclopedia‏‎‏‎ | Gray's Anatomy‏‎ | Topics‏‎ |‏‎ Diseases‏‎ | Drugs | Wellness | Obesity‏‎ | Metabolic syndrome | Weight loss*
Disclaimer: The entire contents of WIKIMD.ORG are for informational purposes only and do not render medical advice or professional services. If you have a medical emergency, you should CALL 911 immediately! Given the nature of the wiki, the information provided may not be accurate, misleading and or incorrect. Use the information on this wiki at your own risk! See full Disclaimer.
Link to this page: <a href="">Cough</a>

  • Individual results may vary for weight loss from our sponsors.