Cough

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Cough
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Cough is a protective reflex that helps to clear the airways from foreign bodies, microorganisms and dust. Cough is a diverse symptom, which is typical to many respiratory tract (and not only) diseases.

Cough is a reflex, caused by irritating the mucosa of the respiratory tract. Cough begins with a rapid inspiration followed by a sharp and strong exhalation. Vocal cords, which are usually closed, open and a large amount of air is exhaled from the lungs.

Classification

Cough is classified into various types – it can be acute and chronic (lasting for more than 2 months), dry and wet (productive). Dry cough is usually specific to viral infections of the respiratory tract. Dry chronic cough can occur as a response to certain drugs (e.g., ACE inhibitors - captopril, zofenopril, lisinopril, etc.). Dry cough is often characteristic to smokers, as well as people living in polluted environments and working with dust.

Productive or "wet" cough is often characteristic to patients having bacterial respiratory tract infections. In this case, often purulent, yellowish sputum is coughed out. Patients with heart diseases can cough foamy, reddish or brownish sputum out.

In some cases blood is coughed out. Fresh, bright blood might mean vascular damage in the lungs (sometimes the trachea or bronchi). This may be a sign of lung cancer, tuberculosis, severe pneumonia (lung inflammation), bronchiectasis, foreign bodies in the trachea and etc. It is important to evaluate the amount, color and consistency of the blood.

Acute cough always begins when a foreign body gets into the trachea (except when the foreign body completely closes the entrance to the trachea). This may be a piece of food, liquid and sometimes various non-edible items (especially in children).

It must not be forgotten that cough is a very important protective mechanism. On the other hand, cough should not be overestimated (it is just a symptom). Other symptoms, results and circumstances have to be considered as well.

Treatment

The treatment of cough depends on its cause. Firstly, the main disease is treated using various methods.

   

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