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Cough

Definition

Coughing is an important way to keep your throat and airways clear. But too much coughing may mean you have a disease or disorder.

Coughing

Watch this video about:
Coughing

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

Coughs can be either acute or chronic:

Causes

Common causes of coughing are:

Other causes include:

Home Care

If you have asthma or another chronic lung disease, make sure you are taking medicines prescribed by your doctor.

Here are some tips to help ease your cough:

Medicines you can buy on your own include:

If you have seasonal allergies, such as hay fever:

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.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 if you have:

Call your doctor right away if a person with cough has any of the following:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The health care provider will ask about your cough, including:

The health care provider will examine your ears, nose, throat, and chest.

References

Kraft M. Approach to the patient with respiratory disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 83.


Review Date: 4/21/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial Team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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