Updated 06 July 2018

Symptoms of a cough

Some conditions may present with coughing or have cough as part of their presenting symptoms.


A cough can be associated with numerous conditions from other body systems (i.e. not just the lungs and the rest of the respiratory system).

It’s important to remember that coughing is a symptom, and that the cause of the disorder resulting in the cough should be established. 

Listed below are some conditions that may present with coughing, or which have cough as part of their presenting symptoms:

Cardiac conditions
• Heart failure   

Respiratory conditions
• Upper respiratory tract infections (e.g. sinusitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis) 
• Lower respiratory tract infections (e.g. pneumonia)
• Pulmonary embolism
• Foreign bodies in the respiratory system
• Cancers
• Tuberculosis

Digestive system
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)

Other causes that should be considered:
Medications, especially hypertension medication like enalapril (angiotensin converting enzyme or ACE inhibitors)
Environmental conditions, e.g. pollution, mining of asbestos (which can lead to asbestosis, a lung disease)

Reviewed by Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit, Head of the Lung Clinical Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. MBChB, MRCP(UK), Dip HIV(Man), MMED, FCP(SA), Cert Pulm(SA), PhD.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Cough Expert

Professor Keertan Dheda has received several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others. Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules