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woman coughingWhat is Coughing?

Coughing is a reflex of the lungs to expel harmful or irritating substances from the body, such as particles, mucus, fluid, or microbes. A cough occurs through a deep inhalation followed by sudden exertion from the glottis area,resulting in an abrupt exhalation and release of air from the throat. Coughs may range from mild to severe and may be persistent, varying in dryness or the amount of irritants brought up by the cough.

Coughing up blood may indicate a serious infection or medical condition, and should be examined by a doctor immediately.

A cough may be caused by several different factors including:

  • allergies or pollutants
  • respiratory infections, laryngitis, smoking, or dripping of mucus from the back of the nose(post nasal drip)
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • choking (obstructed breathing)
  • chronic bronchitis or lung disorders such as tumor of the lung
  • heart failure

Certain medications, such as angiotension-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, antibiotics, sitagliptin, and steroid inhalants, may also cause coughing.

How is Coughing Treated?

Although coughs generally go away on their own, they may be reduced through at-home remedies or over-the-counter medicines. Cough drops and suppressants are typically used for treating this condition. Honey and lemon may also help to alleviate irritation from coughing. For patients who suffer from excess mucus in the throat, expectorants may be prescribed to help drain the substances and remove them from the airway.