Coughing is a reflex that protects the lungs from aspiration and provides the removal of excessive secretion. It is the protection mechanism of the respiratory system.

Coughing is one of the most common symptoms and it can have a lot of causes. They can depend on a simple cause and go away in a short time and they can be a symptom of a very serious disease. Particles gathered with inhalation, excessive mucus secretion, inflammatory exudate, a foreign body, endobronchial lesion and bronchial compressions are direct causes of coughs. Almost all lung and cardiac diseases causes coughs.

Also, rhinitis, oesophageal reflux, middle ear pathologies, diaphragm, pleural and pericardial irritation can cause coughs. The first two questions to ask to a patient, who has coughing complaints are the duration of the coughs and if there is also secretion with the coughs. This information helps the doctor to decide if the cough is acute or chronic and dry or productive.

Acute Cough

If the duration of the cough is less than four weeks, it is called an acute cough. Usually, it is seen in viral upper respiratory infections and lower respiratory infections like pneumonia, abscess. Also, environmental and professional irritants, cigarette smoke and various allergens can cause acute cough attacks. aspiration and foreign bodies can also cause acute cough attacks.

Chronic Cough

If the duration of the cough is more than four-six weeks, it is called an chronic cough. Smoking coughs, postnasal flix and chronic bronchitis are the most common causes of chronic cough. Interstitial lung diseases, asthma, tuberculosis, bronchiecthasis and bronchial cancer causes chronic cough.

Dry (Non-productive) Coughs:

It is the cough type that appears at early hours of the morning without secretion. The most important cause is smoking. The coughs caused by smoking lasts for years. It especially becomes evident with the first cigarette and usually does not makes the individual uncomfortable. However, patients with chronic coughs must be examined for chronic bronchitis and bronchial cancer.

Productive Coughs:

If there is secretion with the coughs, it is productive cough. It is one of the important symptoms that shows there is an acute or chronic inflammation in the lungs and respiratory tracts. It is most common with pneumonia, lung abscess, bronchiecthasis, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis and bronchial cancer. The relationship of the coughs with time and position is important. Especially, night coughs must be considered for asthma or left cardiac failure.

Most common causes of coughing:

  • Cold and upper respiratory tract infections
  • Tuberculosis, chronic obstructive respiratory disease
  • Allergic nasal flix, asthma
  • Smoking

Lung cancer

  • Presence of a foreign body in the bronchus

What is the difference between coughs that develop with lung and cardiac diseases?

Almost all lung diseases cause coughs. The secretion in these diseases are white, yellow, green and slimy. In cases that clot develops in the lungs, the coughs include blood and secretion and a sudden chest pain is evident.

Coughs that are caused by acute lung oedema, include pink, foamy secretion and the secretion of the chronic bronchitis is generally white and slimy.

Cough that are caused by cardiac diseases, are related with exhaustion and intermittent. Also, they can be paired with growling, heart throb and difficulty in breathing. The coughs that make the patient to wake up in the night and go away when the patient sits, can be symptoms of cardiac failure.

Can medications cause coughing?

Hypertension medications; ACE inhibitors can cause dry, persistent coughs. You must contact your doctor in such a case.