(Last Updated on : 30/12/2009)
Cough is the most common type of respiratory diseases. Cough is described as a sudden and often repetitively occurring defense reflex, in medicine. This reflex helps to clear the large breathing passages from excess secretions, irritants, foreign particles and microbes. There are three phases in cough reflex that include an inhalation, a forced exhalation against a closed glottis, and a violent release of air from the lungs following opening of the glottis. Cough is often accompanied by a distinctive sound and coughing can happen voluntarily as well as involuntarily.
There are numerous causes of cough. Cough is considered as a symptom of various diseases like common Cold, Flu, Fever, Pneumonia, Pertussis, Tuberculosis, etc. Among these, Pertussis is recognised as a major cause of troublesome coughing in adults. Cough can be caused due to an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Kennel cough or tracheobronchitis, is considered as a cause of cough, among dogs. Post-nasal drip, gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma, post viral cough and ACE inhibitors, etc. are some of the common causes of chronic dry coughing. The other causes of cough include respiratory infection, bronchitis, viral infection, bacterial infection, fungal infection, wheezing, inhaled irritant, allergies, gastric reflux, etc.
Apart from the above mentioned ones, there are a few other causes of cough also. These are smoker`s cough, asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, lung cancer, exposure to noxious gases, inhaled foreign body, cigarette smoking, dust, smog, carcinoma, bronchopneumonia (type of Pneumonia), pulmonary tuberculosis, lung fibrosis, etc. Atopic cough and eosinophilic bronchitis are also considered as causes of cough. However, coughs are most commonly caused by respiratory infections.
Numerous symptoms are there for identifying cough. The symptoms of cough usually depend on the underlying cause. The most common symptoms of cough include nasal congestion, headache, or postnasal drip from acute or chronic sinusitis (sinus inflammation); wheezing from asthma; heartburn from GERD; fever, chills, night sweats from bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or other lung infection; blood in the sputum or unintentional weight loss from lung cancer; chest pain, shortness of breath, or swelling of your legs from fluid retention (called edema) due to congestive heart failure; etc.
Cough can be of different types. Each type of cough has difference from other types and it could help indicate what illness a person has, as well. The major types of cough include dry cough; wet, productive cough; wet, non-productive cough; painful cough; chronic cough; etc. Coughs can be treated through various treatment methods. The alternative treatment methods like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homoeopathy, etc. are used quite frequently to in treatment of cough. The other procedures like nature care, various Yogic Asanas, nutrition and dietary supplements, herbs, Acupuncture, etc. are also used in treatment of cough.
Most of the times, cough is an indication of a disease. However, sometimes cough itself can be considered as disease. Taking necessary preventive actions and treating cough at the right time, can lessen sufferings from cough.