What is the Cough? Causes, types and treatment

Whether it is because we have a cold, we are allergic or we have a bad throat, cough is something that has affected us all at some time in our lives, but this can be more or less serious and last a short time or, unfortunately, become chronicle. Let's see below, What is Cough? Causes, types and treatment.

What is Cough?

Cough is a natural reflex, which it occurs when for example as sneezing or swallowing, and it is the body's response to irritation of the respiratory tract (pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, lungs).

What is the Cough? Causes, types and treatment

It is not a disease in itself, but it is certainly the sign of an infection or inflammation.


We must distinguish between dry cough (not productive), that expresses a state of irritation and often disrupts sleep, and productive cough , which characterizes by the production of phlegm, even in significant quantities.

Causes of Cough

Cough, which is supported and adjusted by a real nervous circuit, which can be favored or activated not only by infections ( viral or bacterial), but also by inhalation of irritating substances (smoke, solvents, ammonia) or have been sensitized.

What is the Cough? Causes, types and treatment

Sometimes, in a simpler way, it is induced by swallowing badly (sometimes the same saliva) which leads us to end up coughing

The forms severe coughs are those associated with heart failure and pharyngolaryngeal and bronchopulmonary neoplasms

Finally, coughing may also be a symptom of a acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis. And in some it may also be psychosomatic in nature: the so-called hysterical cough, generally linked to anxious states.

Common symptoms

In general, the cough is preceded by a rapid and deep inhalation , on which the intensity of the sound depends, and e manifests with a rapid and strong exhalation against a closed glottis: the aerial column thus compressed respiratory tree causes the abrupt opening of the glottis itself and, escaping, determines the characteristic vibration of the vocal cords. p>

It is important to observe the characters and the progress of the cough: Respiratory infections are usually preceded by dry cough, often persistent, which after a few days involves the formation of phlegm.

On the other hand, it is the mechanism by which the lower respiratory tract can be released from mucus , produced in greater quantity in case of aggression by microorganisms or external factors.

A particular type of full right is the whooping cough: in this case it represents the effect on the central nervous system of a particular toxin, produced by the bacteria responsible for the disease (Bordetella pertussis) and is preceded or by an unmistakable noise, assimilated to the donkey braying, due to a forced introduction of air in the respiratory tract.

The association of the hoarseness allows to relate the cough with the presence of laryngitis.

Types of Cough

There are different types of cough and depending on how it is, we can know what treatment to apply or if we should or should not go to the doctor.Therapy in this case includes antitussives and mucolytics, in possible association with antibiotics.

Convulsive cough or whooping cough

Typical infectious disease from childhood for which you can vaccinate.

Dry cough with beeping

This is a type of cough that has to do often with an asthmatic allergic cough, and that can be treated with anti-asthma drugs or even with glucocorticoids.

Duration of Cough

In the majority of cases, it seems that we are all convinced that the cough should disappear in 7 to 9 days, however , depending on the type of cough can last much longer, and this does not necessarily mean that we have a more serious respiratory disease or that you must resort to antibiotics to treat it, also because, in many cases, it will disappear on its own. alone.

What is the Cough? Causes, types and treatment

Recently, research by researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens has shown that expectations about coughing and healing are very different between people and that, in most cases, they are expected to disappear within a reasonable time; a period of time, which does not exceed 10 days. The reality, however, is that the cough often needs more time to leave, in many cases completely alone.

The review examined 19 studies that included from a minimum of 23 people to one maximum of 1,230 each, affected by acute bronchitis: a condition characterized by a persistent cough.

The data analyzed allowed researchers to discover that, on average, the cough lasted 17.8 days. On the basis of these numbers, the authors of the study involved another 500 adults who were interviewed about their cough duration expectations and about the treatments they would perform (or perform) for their treatment.

Professor Mark Ebell, lead author of the study, and colleagues at the UG School of Public Health, found that the majority of respondents believe that the cough should last an average of 7-9 days. The expected duration varied, however, in a few days, depending on whether the person had cough due to colds, bronchitis, asthma or chronic lung disease.

«I knew that bronchitis usually lasts a couple of weeks» , explains in the note UG, prof. Ebell, but I wanted to see if this was my impression or if it was reality. There is quite clear evidence that the gap is real, so we must do more to educate patients about what to expect when developing cough. "

The gap cited by the author of the study is between the actual duration of the cough and the expectations of the patients. It is not surprising that when the cough lasts more than four or five days, patients with cough usually ask the doctor if it is appropriate to take antibiotics.

"As soon as people go to the doctor because of a cough or cold," says Ebell, 60 percent or more receive an antibiotic, while only a small percentage would need an antibiotic. antibiotics or would benefit from it. "

Although some patients at risk really need antibiotics in some cases, says the researcher, most people do not need it and it would be enough for them to let the cough follow their course.In this way, they easily reach the small airways, where they perform an effective mechanical cleansing action.

A useful recommendation is to drink a lot , both because the respiratory secretions are rich in liquids because a good state of hydration is functional for phlegm to be more fluid.

In the cold season, it is advisable to keep the heated rooms to an optimal degree of humidity, which is between 50 and 60%. For this purpose, an electric device capable of vaporizing water can be installed, the so-called humidifier .

When to consult the doctor

The doctor should be called in case of considerable effort to breathe, with a feeling of shortness of breath, considerable swelling of the veins in the neck and accentuation of the intercostal spaces.

You should also tell the doctor if the color of the skin and mucous membranes (especially the lips and mouth) tends to be pink, bluish. Or when the cough takes place in the context of an asthma attack.

You should also contact if there is a noticeable deterioration in the general conditions or if a feverish increase is observed, even slightly, at night.

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