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What is cough?

Cough is sudden and forceful expiration of air from the lungs caused by an involuntary contraction of the muscles controlling

the process of breathing. A cough is usually initiated to clear a buildup of phlegm in the trachea; air may move through this passage at up to 480 km/h (300 mi/h). Coughing can also be triggered by a bolus of food going down the trachea instead of the esophagus, due to a failure of the epiglottis, although this may result in choking instead. Frequent or chronic coughing usually indicates the presence of a disease. The cough is a response to some irritating condition such as inflammation or the presence of mucus (sputum) in the respiratory tract, as in infectious disease, or to heavy dust or industrial or tobacco smoke. Coughing may also be a reflex action to factors outside the respiratory tract; diseases that are not respiratory in nature (e.g., congestive heart failure or mitral valve disease) often bring on coughing. If there is mucus or a foreign substance in the respiratory tract, the cough should not be hindered since by this action the offending matter is expelled from the body. If, however, the cough becomes exhausting, sedation is indicated. The two general classifications of cough are productive coughs (producing phlegm or mucous from the lungs) and nonproductive coughs (dry and not producing any mucous or phlegm). Coughs are also divided into acute (less than 3 weeks' duration) and chronic (more than three weeks' duration).

More information on cough

What is cough? - Cough is sudden and forceful expiration of air from the lungs caused by an involuntary contraction of the muscles controlling the process of breathing.
What causes cough? - Acute cough is most often caused by the common viral upper respiratory tract infection. Cold viruses often causes a postnasal drip and that causes a cough.
How coughing is diagnosed? - Information regarding the duration of the cough, what other symptoms may accompany it, and what environmental factors may influence it is useful for coughing diagnosis.
What's the treatment for a cough? - The treatment of a cough will depend largely on its severity and underlying cause. An acute infection such as pneumonia may require antibiotics.
What cough medications are available? - Antitussives are drugs that suppress a cough. Dextromethorphan depresses the brain's cough center. Cough suppressants may lessen cough.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005, health-cares.net, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005