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:
• Heart failure
• Upper respiratory tract infections (e.g. sinusitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis)
• Lower respiratory tract infections (e.g. pneumonia)
• Pulmonary embolism
• Foreign bodies in the respiratory 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.