What Kind of Cough Do You Have?
A cough isn’t an illness. It’s usually a symptom of an illness, but this is not always necessarily the case. Basically, it’s just your body’s way of ridding itself of an irritant. When there’s something messing with your airway, your nervous system sends out an alert that prompts your chest and abdomen muscles to contract and then expel a burst of air. That’s a cough.
What are the usual irritants that bother the airway? Excessive mucus is the most common culprit, but smoke, dust, mold, pollen, and other allergens are often responsible for people’s coughs as well.
Describe Your Cough
A cough is elicited by many possible causes. To figure out what’s bringing yours forth, you need to look at its characteristics, which are defined by the following factors.
1. Behavior of Occurrence
Note when coughing takes place and if you can identify what triggers it. Does it happen at certain times? Does it seem to be your body’s reaction to a specific activity?
2. Sound and Feel
You can usually tell from the sound and feel of your cough if it is wet or dry. Figuring this out helps you determine which remedy to get. A wet cough is best dealt with expectorant syrup, and a dry cough, with a suppressant.
How long has your cough been around? Count by the weeks. If it’s been lingering for more than the standard couple of weeks, you definitely need to see a doctor.
4. Related Symptoms
You need to take note of any other symptoms that may be accompanying your cough. Are you vomiting, suffering from sleeplessness, urinary incontinence, etc.? You need all this information to get the correct diagnosis.
How serious is your cough? Is it mild, average, persistent to the point of debilitating? You need to pay attention so you can respond accordingly.
Of course, there’s also cough from choking, which is a whole other breed of cough. It happens when something is obstructing your airway. This needs immediate medical attention.
It’s not always easy to figure out what kind of cough you actually have. With the standard symptoms, chances are, it’s nothing more than the usual cold or flu. It’s good, however, to know characteristics of the most common kinds of cough.
1. Wet Cough
Also referred to as a productive cough, it brings up mucus that you should expectorate. It sounds wet, thanks to the abundance of mucus in your respiratory system. Suitable phlegm treatment is necessary to get some relief.
When caused by a cold or the flu, it usually comes with other symptoms such as a runny nose, postnasal drip, and fatigue. Other conditions that cause a wet cough are pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, and asthma.
2. Dry Cough
A dry cough, on the other hand, does not involve mucus. This is trickier to address because there’s no obvious issue of phlegm to resolve.
Just like a wet cough, it may be caused by a cold or the flu. Other possible causes are laryngitis, croup, sinusitis, tonsillitis, allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. A dry cough may also arise as a side effect to medication and as a reaction to pollutants and other irritants.
3. Paroxysmal Cough
This refers to the fitful attacks of uncontrollable violent coughing. It could be painful and tiring and may even cause shortness of breath and vomiting. It is usually caused by whooping cough or pertussis. It can be serious and dangerous, but there’s a vaccine against it.
Other possible causes include asthma, choking, COPD, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.
4. Croup Cough
This cough has a barking sound and usually affects infants and very young children. It causes swelling in the airway, making it hard to breathe. It also makes the sufferer emit a high-pitched noise while inhaling.
Coughs don’t need to be a mystery. By knowing the characteristics of your cough, you can arrive at the most likely cause and apply the right remedy.