Finding out what type of cough you have can help you to get better quicker. It may be annoying to have an irritating cough, but coughing is an important part of your body’s lung-cleansing mechanism. You’re coughing to keep your airways clear of unwanted phlegm and inhaled foreign matter. However, there are so many different types of cough that it can be difficult to interpret if they are a symptom of a bigger problem.
A simple cold may cause dry barking or wet, productive (phlegm-producing) hacking, but bronchitis, pneumonia or even GERD (Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease) could do the same. However, the cause of most coughs can be identified by the length of time they persist. A cough that lasts longer than eight weeks is considered chronic – it will probably not go away without some remedial action. A cough that lasts fewer than 10 days will probably go away on its own.
Don’t head for the pharmacy for over-the-counter remedies, though. Cough suppressants do what they say – suppress the mucus that needs to be expectorated. That’s not what you want to do. That’s why our all-natural Herbal Cough Mix™ is recommended to ease any type of cough.
Let’s find out what type of cough you have
Most coughs indicate any of the following conditions:
1. Colds & Flu
If you’ve caught a cold and it has brought with it a cough, both will probably disappear naturally within 10 days. If the cough is interfering with your daily activities, make sure you drink lots of fluids, especially hot ones, to keep your respiratory system hydrated. Inhaling steam can provide temporary relief – place your head over a basin of steaming water (drape a towel over your head to prevent the steam escaping) and breathe deeply to fill your lungs. Flora Force Herbal Cough Mix™ will help ease your cough and allow you to get on with your day.
Asthma is probably the second-most common cause of a cough. So says Margaret Lewin, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City and medical director of Cinergy Health in Florida. ‘Some asthma sufferers, instead of loud wheezing, get only a dry cough.’ Asthma is a chronic bronchial condition that causes the air passages to tighten. An attack can be triggered by an upper respiratory infection or an allergic reaction to irritants like perfume, paints, fur and dust mites. If you are prone to asthma and are sensitive to changes in temperature, humidity and air pollution, an energetic workout at the gym can also set off an attack.
3. Post Nasal Drip
Your cough may be caused by post-nasal drip, triggered by sinusitis, rhinitis (inflammation of the lining of the nose), allergies, fumes or an upper respiratory infection, says Dr Lewin. ‘The sinuses produce fluid that drips down the throat and that produces a cough, because your body won’t let you drown in your own secretions,’ she says. The cough can be dry or wet, accompanied by a tickling or sore throat. Avoid using decongestant sprays, which are used to dry up mucus, for longer than five consecutive days – overuse can lead to nasal passage damage and the inability to respond to the decongestant.
4. Smoker’s cough
If you’re a smoker, the chances are that you greet every day with a throaty cough. To you, it may just be a ‘morning cough’, but that regular hack could be a sign of a more serious disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung cancer. COPD is an umbrella term for emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema occurs when the lungs’ air sacs are damaged, which leads to shortness of breath. Chronic, or long-lasting, bronchitis is an inflammation of the airways that comes with a deep, phlegmy cough that is nearly always associated with smoking. We urge you to quit! Lung cancer generally only produces a cough when the air passages are affected.
5. Acute bronchitis or pneumonia
If you’ve been coughing for more than 10 days, it may be advisable to consult your healthcare professional to check for bronchitis or pneumonia, both bacterial and viral infections.
6. Whooping cough
Caused by bacteria and initially showing the symptoms of a cold, the comically named whooping cough is in fact a highly contagious condition. The cough is dry, hacking and typically high-pitched, and can be so persistent that people can become short of breath.
Coughing in babies or toddlers may be caused by bronchiolitis (a viral infection of the small air passages in the lungs). Spasms of coughing followed by a distinctive whooping sound are characteristic of whooping cough. Children with whooping cough also tend not to want to eat or drink, and need immediate medical attention.
Place a humidifier in the child’s bedroom. It will loosen the phlegm and soothe irritated lungs.
7. Reflux (GERD)
In some people suffering with acid or non-acid reflux (the back-up of stomach fluids into your oesophagus), the only symptom may be a cough, not heartburn.
A child suffering with croup will have a harsh, barking cough and find it difficult to breathe because his voice box and windpipe have become inflamed. Croup is often worse at night or in winter. Caused by a viral or bacterial infection, croup may be distressing but is rarely dangerous. Steam is the best home remedy. Create a steamy atmosphere by boiling a kettle safely in the bedroom, running a shower of a hot bath, or using an electric vaporiser.
What’s Your Take Away?
Were you able to figure out what type of cough you or your child has? Do you know when to go see a health professional to get a cough seen to? Have you found natural cough mix to be of help? We’d love to know your experience – it’ll be great of you share with us on Facebook.
Acknowledgements & Photo credits
This article was adapted in part from ‘Types of Coughs and What They Mean’ by Dorothy Foltz-Gray, published in Lifescript>, a US online health magazine for women.
- Courtesy of Semevent / Pixabay.com