Cough has an array of possible causes, ranging from a foreign body lodged in the airways to an infective cause and even cancer. The type of cough usually gives an indication of the cause, but only in conjunction with full history taking and proper physical examination can the cause be determined and treated.
A cough can be classified by its duration, character, quality, and timing.
Acute coughs: coughing for less than three weeks
Subacute coughs: cough lasting between three and eight weeks
Chronic cough: coughing for more than eight weeks
It is important to note that a persistent cough causing severe discomfort, lasting for even a couple of days should be examined by a doctor.
The character of the cough (what it sounds like) is dependent on the level of the respiratory tract where it originates and the cause of the cough.
The type of cough is also important in determining a cause. Coughs can usually be described as “wet/productive” or “dry”. Various causes for each exist.
The character of a cough is also determined by the level in the respiratory tract where the cough has its origin:
Cough has numerous causes and should be investigated if not clearing by itself in a couple of days or if it has a sudden onset with associated symptoms.
What is a cough?
Types of cough
Treating a cough
Image: Girl coughing for doctor from Shutterstock