Why Do I Cough?
Throughout the day, people are exposed to numerous particles of dust, fumes and germs. Our living space can be polluted with tobacco smoke, car exhaust fumes and airborne infections. With all of these pollutants, it is a wonder that we are not continually coughing 24 hours a day.
There are two main types of cough, dry and chesty. The cough is an involuntary action by the brain to clear a blockage or irritant from the body’s airways. A cough may also be due to a viral infection such as the flu or common cold.
The dry cough is often seen as the less productive of the two types. Whereas the chesty cough brings up phlegm or mucus from the lungs, a dry cough can just seem plain irritating. Many smokers can have a continual dry cough throughout their lives. They see the cough as part of their smoking and, in time, they take it for granted.
Chronic coughing can sometimes be extremely serious. People who suffer from chronic coughing have been known to break their ribs due to the condition. People who experience chesty coughs that last for more than two weeks should consult a doctor. Coughing that is caused by a cold or flu usually disappears within two weeks; if it does not, it may be a symptom of a more serious problem.
If coughing lasts for more than two weeks, x-rays may be necessary to diagnose the problem. The coughing could be a sign of bronchial problems or pneumonia. Phlegm that has been coughed up will also be analyzed to help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis. The main treatment is usually antibiotic medicine.
The most common treatment for coughing is cough medicine. Some experts believe this medicine to have no more than a placebo effect. Ingredients in the medicine are usually honey, syrup and sugar. These coat the throat and relieve the irritation.
There are also medicines that are used to suppress a cough. These cause the brain to repress the signal that causes coughing. These medications are usually antihistamines, which can be used for dry coughs only and may sometimes cause drowsiness after ingestion.
It is very rare for coughing to be a symptom of something more serious. However, chronic coughing over a period of more than two weeks should be looked into by a medical expert.