A cough is a bodily reaction that allows the lungs and upper airways to remove foreign material and mucus. Coughing is a natural process that's often harmless, but as it's a symptom rather than a disease, it can be indicative of a more serious lung condition.
There are two different types of coughs—productive coughs, in which phlegm or mucus is produced, and non-productive coughs, which are dry and produce no mucus.
How does it occur?
Coughs, whether they're productive or non-productive, can be caused by a wide variety of disorders and conditions. Some of these include:
- Viral infections or illnesses such as the common cold
- Chronic lung disease
While in many cases, a cough will do its job and remove foreign material from the body, in other cases, coughing can be chronic and reveal a more serious condition. In these cases, it's important to see a lung physician like those at the Gwinnett Pulmonary Group.
How is it diagnosed?
Your physician may ask to listen to you cough to determine what kind of cough you have. Because a cough is a symptom of something greater, he or she may investigate further to determine what the underlying condition may be. Examinations including chest X-rays, blood tests and lab tests of mucus samples may be used in diagnosis.
How is it treated?
How your healthcare provider recommends your cough be treated is dependent on what underlying condition is causing the cough. He or she will determine if antibiotics or other medication are necessary.
How can I take care of myself?
When you have a cough, you can often treat it at home using over-the-counter cough remedies, expectorants, cough suppressants and more. Drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding exposure to irritants can also help a cough.