A cough is a common reflex action that clears the throat of mucus or foreign irritants. Coughing to clear the throat is typically an infrequent action, although a number of conditions can cause more frequent bouts of coughing. In general, a cough that lasts for less than three weeks is an acute cough.
Coughing can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. Examples include normal clearing of airways, irritants such as smoke and gas, tobacco use or improperly swallowing food and liquids.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY COUGH IS SERIOUS?
If you are coughing up thick green or yellow phlegm, or if you are wheezing, running a fever higher than 101 F, having night sweats, or coughing up blood, you need to see a doctor. These may be signs of a more serious illness that needs to be diagnosed and treated.
Try these five tips to manage your cough at home:
Stay Hydrated. An upper respiratory tract infection like a cold or flu causes postnasal drip.
Take Steamy Showers, and Use a Humidifier.(not recommended for asthma patients)
Remove Irritants From the Air.
Take Medications to Treat Coughs.
You should see a doctor right away if your dry cough is accompanied by the following symptoms:
Shortness of breath.
High or prolonged fever.
Coughing up blood or bloody phlegm.
chest pain when you’re not coughing.
COUGH SYMPTOMS, CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS.
Coughing is seen in many medical conditions. It is important to take note of the duration, type and features of your cough as well as any other symptoms that come with your cough. This information will be very helpful to your healthcare provider when looking for the cause of your cough and the most appropriate treatment.
Some germs use coughing to spread to new hosts.
There is a wide array of potential causes of coughs.
Some types of cough only occur at night.
If the cough is difficult to diagnose, a chest X-ray may be necessary
A dry cough is a cough where no phlegm or mucus is produced (known as non-productive). A dry cough is irritating and usually associated with a tickly throat. Dry coughs are often caused by viral illnesses such as colds and flu, but they can also be caused by allergies or throat irritants.
Specific treatment for a dry cough will depend on the cause of the cough.
HOW LONG DOES A COUGH NORMALLY LAST?
Coughs associated with a cold or the flu tend to last a week or 2, most clearing up within about 3 weeks. A post-viral cough may persist for several (up to about 8) weeks after a viral illness, while some coughs persist for longer and are usually a sign of an underlying problem.
In adults and children, a cough is described as acute (short term) if you have been coughing for up to 2 weeks.
In adults, a cough that lasts for more than 8 weeks is described as a chronic (ongoing) persistent cough.
In children, a cough that lasts 2 to 4 weeks is called a prolonged acute cough. A cough that lasts more than 4 weeks is considered to be a chronic cough.
A persistent dry cough can cause problems, including the following complications.
Repeated coughing can lead to urinary incontinence in women, especially older women, pregnant women and those who have been pregnant.
Interrupted sleep resulting in tiredness is a common problem for people with a persistent cough.
Severe or uncontrollable coughing fits can sometimes cause vomiting.
Headaches may result from a persistent cough.
When should you seek medical advice about a dry cough?
You should you seek medical advice if:
You start to cough up blood or copious amounts of mucus (phlegm);
You are short of breath or wheezy;
The cough is mainly at night;
You have associated chest pain;
You have a fever;
You are a cigarette smoker;
You have a hoarse voice;
The cough is associated with vomiting or a choking sensation;
You have other symptoms such as an ongoing headache, sore ears or a rash;
You have recently lost weight or have general muscle aches;
The cough is in an infant aged 6 months or younger;
The cough has lasted longer than 10 days, with little or no improvement; or
You have high blood pressure, a heart complaint, respiratory illness (such as asthma), gastrointestinal problems or are taking other medicines.
SELF HELP FOR DRY COUGH
There are some simple things you can do to provide relief from a dry cough.
Honey can help treat a dry cough by coating and soothing the back of the throat (pharynx), and relieving the irritation that triggers a dry cough. Try drinking warm water containing honey and lemon, or taking one to 2 teaspoons of honey 30 minutes before bedtime. Note that honey should not be given to children younger than 12 months of age due to the risk of infant botulism (a rare bacterial infection).
Drinking plenty of liquids can help, and warm broths or teas may help soothe your throat.
Gargling salt water (in older children and adults) may also help with a dry cough associated with a cold and sore throat.
Dry cough can be a side effect of some medicines such as ACE inhibitors and beta blockers (used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems). Your doctor may recommend stopping any medicines that could be causing your cough and replacing them with other suitable medicines for your particular condition. Talk to your doctor about alternative medicines if you are having this problem.
Repeated coughing from any cause can irritate and inflame the larynx (voice box) and upper airways. So the coughing itself makes your airways more sensitive, leading to more coughing. Strategies that can help you reduce the urge to cough and help stop this type of self-perpetuating cough include:
Taking a sip of water with a hard swallow when you feel like coughing or clearing your throat; and
Avoiding any triggers that you know tend to aggravate your cough, such as overuse of your voice, cigarette smoke, or excessively cold, dry air such as from air conditioning.
IS A DRY COUGH A SIGN OF CANCER?
Coughs related to respiratory cancers may irritate the lungs or windpipe, producing either dry or productive coughs. In cancer patients, cough often occurs with other aerodigestive symptoms, including dysphagia, dyspnea, hoarseness, and wheezing
WHY IS A COUGH WORSE AT NIGHT?
Coughing often becomes worse at night because a person is lying flat in bed. Mucus can pool in the back of the throat and cause coughing. Sleeping with the head elevated can decrease postnasal drip and symptoms of GERD, which both cause coughing at night.
WHEN YOU SHOULD SEE A DOCTOR ABOUT A COUGH?
Call your doctor if your cough doesn’t go away after several weeks or if you or your child is:
Coughing up thick, greenish-yellow phlegm.
Experiencing a fever more than 100 F (38 C)
Experiencing shortness of breath.