Coughs are a natural reflex that clears your airways of mucus and irritants, including bacteria and viruses.

They’re usually caused by colds or flu, which are viral infections of the nose and throat.

Many coughs will get better on their own within three weeks, but persistent coughs can be distressing and disruptive.

Coughing is your body’s way of getting rid of foreign bodies or irritants in your lungs and throat. It’s an important reflex that clears your airways and helps to keep you healthy.

A cough can be either acute or chronic. An acute cough lasts up to three weeks, whereas a chronic cough lasts longer than three weeks

Coughs can be either chesty or dry.

A chesty cough means phlegm is produced to help clear your airways while a dry cough is when little or no phlegm is produced. 

But sometimes, coughing can be a sign of an underlying condition. You should see a doctor if your cough is:

  • persistent
  • severe
  • accompanied by shortness of breath
  • accompanied by high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • last longer than 3 weeks
  • producing blood-stained phlegm (sputum)
  • causing chest pain
  • causing you to be sick (vomit) If you have a persistent cough that’s lasted more than three weeks, a GP may refer you for tests to check for lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
There are two main types of cough

A chesty cough, also known as a productive cough, is one that brings up phlegm. It’s usually caused by a chest infection.

A dry cough, on the other hand, doesn’t produce phlegm and tends to be irritating and repetitive. A dry cough is often caused by post-nasal drip – when the lining of your nose continually drips down the back of your throat – or asthma.. It’s not usually a sign of anything serious, but it might annoy you and disturb your sleep and there are some things you can do to help ease it:

  • drink plenty of water to loosen the mucus in your chest
  • raise the head end of your bed 10-15cm by putting something under your mattress – make it so you’re sleeping at an angle
  • make sure your bedroom is not too hot or too cold

Everyone coughs occasionally, but those with a persistent cough may have a medical condition that needs attention.

Please note that regular First Aid and CPR Training is the best way to make sure that you’re prepare in the case of an emergency. Book a course with us!

Find this article useful? Read more of our blogs here!

Share This

Related Posts