When something irritates the throat or airways, the body responds by coughing. If it doesn’t belong in the lungs or windpipe, your body will let you know. Wellington Physicians Urgent Care can help diagnose and treat your cough as well as provide symptom relief. Contact us to start feeling better, sooner.
What Is a Cough?
A cough is supposed to protect you. Coughing can be triggered by numerous reasons. Coughing is also defined as a symptom, not a disease. Its characteristics and related symptoms are key to determining the cause of a cough.
Types of Coughs
There are two types of coughs, productive and nonproductive. One produces phlegm and the other is dry. In more detail:
Productive coughs produce phlegm that comes from the lungs or may drain from the sinuses. Common causes are viral illness, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, chronic lung disease (COPD), gastroesophageal reflux disease, nasal discharge (postnasal drip), and smoking. It is recommended that a productive cough is not suppressed, to allow the mucus, dust or foreign particle to be cleared from the lungs.
A nonproductive cough is dry and has no phlegm or sputum production. Exposure to dust or smoke can develop a dry hacking cough. The end of a cold can also develop a dry cough. Other common causes may include viral illnesses, bronchospasm (irritants or irritation of the airway), asthma, allergies or certain medications (such as ACE inhibitors).
Cough Causes and Cough Symptoms
- Upper respiratory tract infections: The most common cause of coughing related to illness are infections of the nose and throat. This is commonly associated with sore throats, fevers and runny noses. Infections of the nose and throat are the most common cause of coughing related to illness. Almost always caused by viruses, they are usually associated with fevers, sore throat and runny nose. To help avoid infections, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Hay fever (or allergic rhinitis): Usually associated with sneezing, a runny nose and a dry cough, hay fever often mimics the symptoms of a common cold. A common allergic condition that mimics the symptoms of a common cold.
- Inhalation of irritants: Exposure to fumes and vapors can cause a cough through inflammation of the throat and airway.
- Lower respiratory tract infections: These are more serious viral and bacterial infections that usually cause a deep, lingering cough and fever. They can affect the airways (bronchitis) or go further into the lungs (pneumonia).
- Pulmonary embolism: If you suspect a pulmonary embolism, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room. A blood clot travels, usually from the legs, to the lungs, causing sudden shortness of breath and a dry cough that could lead to death.
- Lung collapse (or pneumothorax): A lung collapse is deflation of the lung and can be spontaneous or because of chest trauma. Signs of a collapsed lung include sudden chest pain, dry cough and shortness of breath.
- Heart failure: A build-up of fluid in the lung that causes coughing and shortness of breath could be a symptom of a weak or diseased heart.
- Postnasal drip: Starting as a dry cough, this usually stems from chronic dripping of mucus into the back of the throat. Congestion is what produces mucus. Coughing typically occurs after a recent infection or constantly being near an allergy trigger.
- Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD): When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, you might get acid-reflux or GERD which can cause coughing.
A cough can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs attention. Coughing caused by respiratory illnesses are also important to address. If any cough is painful and persistent, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Contact Urgent Care for Coughs
Wellington Physicians Urgent Care, located in Wellington, Florida, is open seven days a week with convenient daytime and evening hours for patients needing urgent care treatment. Wellington Physicians Urgent Care’s team of medical professionals are here to help with diagnosing the reason for your cough.
Walk-in or make a reservation online. →