Before going for any over-the-counter cough medication, it is extremely important to know what type of cough you have. Hence, this HealthHearty article helps you identify the type of cough you may have so you can go get appropriate treatment.
|Cough that is caused by viral illnesses should not be treated with antibiotics because they do not alter the course of viral infections. On the contrary, using antibiotics may cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, etc.|
Coughing is a symptom in itself and the significance of the cough can be determined only by evaluating other symptoms associated with it. Coughing is basically your body’s way to get rid of the foreign material or mucus deposited in the lungs or airway passages. It may also be the way to deal with an irritated airway. It is a process of building up sufficient pressure in the chest to throw out the irritants or any other foreign material and clear the airways for breathing.
However, persistent cough may have certain serious underlying causes, which if left untreated may cause severe complications. If your cough lasts for more than 7 weeks, learn that there is something wrong and take immediate medical help. Also, go to the doctor immediately if you experience certain symptoms that you never experienced before, like coughing up blood or an unusual color of phlegm.
Cough that is dry and does not produce sputum is known as non-productive cough. The main cause of this cough may be respiratory irritants like dust, dander, smoke, etc., or it may be experienced at the end of common cold when there is no more phlegm to expel. There are several types of dry cough such as throat-clearing cough, dry cough with a wheeze, painful and breathless cough, etc.
► Dry, hacking cough at unusual times
► A tickle at the back of the throat leading to a coughing fit
► Persistent cough with shortness of breath
It’s the opposite of dry or non-productive cough because it produces phlegm. Productive cough is also known as wet cough, and is usually caused by fluid secretions and mucus found in the upper respiratory tract, i.e., the lungs and the windpipe, which is removed from the body through coughing. The underlying causes of a productive cough could be asthma or certain infections. The most common cause though, could be cold, because all the sputum from the nasal passages goes back into the throat from where it is expelled through coughing.
► Coughing up green phlegm
► Coughing up mucus
It is also known as Pertussis and is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It spreads from one person to another through droplets of saliva while coughing. Whooping cough may take a severe form and can even prove fatal. Hence, it is important to protect yourself as well as others from this cough by covering the mouth while coughing. People often let it run its course up to 6 weeks without any treatment. However, as mentioned earlier, if it takes a severe form, it may cause other complications like fractured ribs, pneumonia, or even death.
► Feeling of suffocation
► Vomiting after a cough fit
► Uncontrollable coughing fits
► Feeling of lightheadedness
► A period of no cough at all followed by a coughing fit
As the name suggests, it is a bark-like cough that produces a loud, hoarse sound. It is often referred to as croup. However, croup is a respiratory disease caused due to viral infection and may not always be the cause of barking cough. In a normal case, barking cough may be a result of swollen vocal cords due to common cold. The throat (larynx) and the windpipe (trachea) usually get infected by the virus. It is mostly seen in children under 5 years of age.
► Harsh, barking sound while coughing
► Worsening of the cough at night
► Swelling and infections that make breathing difficult
► A high-pitched sound, called stridor, made during inhalation
► Increased breathing rate
It commonly occurs after the course of cold or other illnesses. It does not show any other specific associated symptoms and often stops when the person falls asleep. It is a common type of cough found more in children than in adults. Individuals with this type of often feel the urge to cough when someone coughs, and sometimes even pronounce the word ‘cough’.
► A cough started during or after the recovery of viral laryngitis
► A cough started during or after an upper respiratory tract infection
Knowing what kind of cough you have is always better because it may be the key factor in deciding whether you should visit a doctor or not. Though it may be a casual cough at times, never ignore a persistent cough and get medical help as early as possible.