What Causes a Cough?


The body coughs to remove irritants and excess mucus. Everyone coughs from time to time. If you or your children are coughing frequently, it is a good idea for you to consult your doctor. A cough may be an indication of illness or medication side effects. 

Colds and flu are common causes of coughing. Colds and flu can be prevented by getting the right vaccinations, maintaining good hand hygiene, and physically separating yourself from people who are sick. When you’re exposed to a sick person, be sure to wash your hands often and cover your mouth while coughing.

A common cause of coughing is pneumonia. Fever, cough and difficulty breathing are all symptoms. A severe or chronic form of pneumonia can cause emphysema and pulmonary embolism. Both are life-threatening conditions.

Another cause of cough is bronchitis. This is a long-term inflammation in the lungs. It’s usually caused by smoking or exposure to environmental irritations. Infections of the lungs may also be caused by bacteria, fungus or parasites. Coughing can be caused by some lung diseases, including chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD), emphysema and chronic inflammation of the lungs.

A sinus infection such as a viral or bacterial sinus infection can also cause a persistent cough.

Antihistamines, decongestants or antibiotics are usually used to treat these infections. Certain medical conditions such as asthma or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause sinus problems. Some medications, including birth control pills, drugs to treat high blood pressure, depression and other conditions, can cause sinus problems.

If a cough is not caused by a cold or flu, it should not be a cause for concern. If a cough comes with other symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath (dyspnea), fatigue, fever or nasal congestion it’s a good idea for you to consult your ClinicALL healthcare provider.