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Cough - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Cough?

A cough is a common condition that affects people of almost all age brackets. Cough can be either chronic or acute in nature. Coughs that are generally acute in nature lasts for a week whereas a chronic cough can span over a month. Cough isn’t detrimental to one’s health but in some severe cases can cause lightheadedness, vomiting and consequent nausea. Sometimes, cough can be annoying causing severe disruption in your sleeping pattern.

Causes of Cough

It is often times difficult to pinpoint the exact reason which triggers a cough. Bodily dysfunctions such as existing conditions (Eg. Asthma, allergies) and external reasons such as tobacco usage, acid reflux and postnatal dripping (a condition where the sinuses produce extra mucus which drips down from the back of the throat) may trigger such a condition. In other cases, it may appear as a symptom of more serious diseases like upper respiratory infection, bronchitis or sarcoidosis (accumulation of inflammatory cells in various parts of the body).

Risk factors

Having a smoking habit is one of the primary reason for chronic cough. So much so that doctors have termed it as a separate condition called smoker’s cough. It has been found that secondhand smoke or passive smoking also leads to cough in addition to more detrimental damages to the bronchial passage (region comprising the lungs). Between the sexes, statistics determined women are typically more prone to developing cough than men. A relatively more sensitive cough reflex in women has been attributed as cause.


A casual cough is normal and to an extent even beneficial as it helps clean irritants and unwanted secretions from the lungs and the passage of the throat. This in turn prevents infection. But having a persistent cough can be harmful as it can lead to a plethora of associated problems. Apart from a dry and painful throat it can lead to further maladies such as headache, sweating, dizziness and even loss of bladder control. Although mostly in rare cases, it can even cause a person to pass out (known as syncope in medical terms).

Diagnosis and treatment

A general physician may prescribe you oral medications and cough syrup for a standard cough. Yet a reason for concern may arise if the condition persists even after. In such cases, the doctor will evaluate your medical history and make you undergo imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans. Post diagnosis the doctor may prescribe appropriate cough suppressants or strong antibiotics to relieve your condition.

Treatable by medical professional Self diagnosable Lab test not required Short-term: resolves within days to weeks Spread through the air or contaminated surfaces
Runny nose Sore throat Hoarseness Shortness of breath Wheezing Coughing up blood

Popular Health Tips

How A Right Diet Helps Recover From Pulmonary Tuberculosis?

MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad
How A Right Diet Helps Recover From Pulmonary Tuberculosis?

Pulmonary tuberculosis was a fatal disease in the past in India. On an average, 95% of the deaths occur in third world countries, especially the developing ones, due to tuberculosis. In India, the deaths account to 50% out of the 95%. Such is the scenario that everyone is apprehensive if they have a prolonged cough and cold. As sputum with blood is a clear sign that the person is suffering from tuberculosis, steps must be taken promptly and at a swift pace to streamline things for quick care.

Tuberculosis is an air-borne disease and it can easily travel through the air when the affected person is in contact. In tuberculosis, specific bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis affects the lungs. On an average, 10% of such infections progress into acute disease and kill the affected individuals.

The symptoms of tuberculosis are seen more in patients suffering from AIDS as their immunity is often compromised. Early detection can be made possible through a chest X-Ray, microscopic examination, and the nature of the fluids. In case you are suffering from a prolonged cough and cold, you must go for tuberculin skin test or blood test to find out more about the problem.

Why is it important to eat a proper diet during pulmonary tuberculosis?
Malnutrition and pulmonary tuberculosis are interrelated. If you are eating right and inducting all healthy means in your daily lifestyle, it will build your immunity and help fight against grave diseases. When you have pulmonary tuberculosis, the desire or craving for the food will disappear and eventually, your body will wither off. You will lose mass by losing muscles.

So, eating healthily can only help you stay strong to defeat pulmonary tuberculosis. Those who are suffering from tuberculosis face challenges with nutrients in their body. They are deprived of essential micro-nutrients and they have severe deficiencies of zinc, Vitamin A, D, C & E, selenium, iron and copper.

A protein- and vitamin-rich diet can boost the immunity of the body and prevent deadly diseases from wreaking havoc in the body. So, if you are wondering about food, here are a few items that you can eat and few that you can avoid when you have pulmonary tuberculosis.

Food to eat

  • Kale and spinach are instant sources of high iron and Vitamin B, which will help you power-up your immune system.
  • Whole grains like wheat, bread and cereals are a must-have during this time-tested period.
  • Carrots, peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, and cherries are rich anti-oxidants and they can boost your immune system by flushing out the oxidants from the body, which are tantamount to poison.
  • Vegetable oil (not butter) could be a “green go” during pulmonary tuberculosis.

Food to avoid

  1. Greasy food like beef, chicken, and mutton must be avoided. They can increase the cholesterol level in the body and compromise on the power of immunity.
  2. Avoid margarine and butter. One should not eat cake, pastries, and other food with hydrogenated oil.
  3. Keep an eye on your regular diet, work to build a strong immunity, and always stay healthy.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3178 people found this helpful

How Pollution Can Affect Your Child's Lungs?

MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Diploma In HIV, DNB - Respiratory Diseases, V P Chest Delhi
Pulmonologist, Pune
How Pollution Can Affect Your Child's Lungs?

Air pollution is known to take a toll on the lungs of even the healthiest adults. So it comes as no surprise that the effects of this pollution on the lungs of children is deemed as a grave situation, full of health hazards including the onset of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorders and conditions like asthma. Read on to find out more about the link between air pollution and its effect on the lungs of children.

-   Children's Lungs: Mostly, all the organs of a child's body are considered delicate and not fully matured until the child reaches a certain age. The main and largest part of the child's lungs will usually grow only after the child has been born - much like the arms and legs. In fact, it is a medically proven fact that about 80% of the tiniest of air sacs grow after the child's birth. These are called the alveoli and they facilitate the transfer of the oxygen into the blood stream with a life sustaining function that is built into our lungs. These alveoli continue to grow until the child becomes an adult. 

-   Immunity and Infections: Like the lungs of the child, the immunity of the child is also still in its growth phase, and very much unlike the immunity that an adult enjoys. This makes the child more susceptible to infections that are usually carried by air pollution in today's day and age of urban living when myriad pollutants are sent into the air every single day. Also, since children play outdoors more often and spend more time breathing in this air, they are more prone to these infections and lung or respiratory ailments due to this reason. Various studies and tests have shown inflammation in the respiratory passages caused by deposits of carbon dioxide emissions in the lungs of children.

-   Symptoms: Usually, the very first symptoms that show that air pollution is affecting the child's lungs can be seen when persistent coughing and wheezing sets in, without any proper reason. Also, when the child faces bronchial infections time and time again, then this points at the hazardous effects of air pollution as well. 

-   Respiratory problems: Apart from respiratory problems which can lead to asthmatic attacks, hay fever and allergies as well as other COPD ailments, there are other related dangers. These can happen when constant choking and obstruction of oxygen due to pollution become a regular affair. These include strokes and brain damage which can eventually also lead to a higher risk of dementia. 

The government and citizens need to ensure that there is a drop in particle air pollution so as to ensure that children do not fall prey to such health problems.

2 people found this helpful

Chronic Cough And Cold - How Ayurveda Can Help?

BAMS, MD - Ayurveda, Diploma In Yoga
Ayurveda, Mumbai
Chronic Cough And Cold - How Ayurveda Can Help?

A cough and cold are caused by infections, sinusitis, bronchitis, and exposure to dust. Ayurveda recommends not just medications to treat a cough and cold. It also insists on incorporating certain dietary and lifestyle changes for complete cure. A cough is a way that the human body uses to blow off foreign bodies from the respiratory airways. However, when someone coughs for long, it can lead to dizziness, hoarseness of voice, and wheezing. In case of a chronic cough, fatigue and aches in the joints are experienced.

In Ayurveda, cold is also known as Vata-Kaphaja Pratishaya. According to Ayurveda, Virudh ahar (incorrect combination of foods), Ama (toxins), and Asatmya (change in environment) lead to allergic reactions, and cold is one such example. Toxins may accumulate in the body of an individual due to impaired metabolism and digestion. On the other hand, intolerance towards specific food items may lead to an allergy.

Vamana Panchakarma, followed by Virechana can be administered for the treatment of a chronic cough and cold. This helps correct the balance between the three doshas and to eliminate toxins. In some individuals, nasal drops therapy or Nasya treatment can be administered to clear congestion. This is done by pouring herbal oils such as Shadbindu or Anu taila in the nostrils. Ayurvedic medications can also be administered to strengthen the immune system and the respiratory tract.

The following sections explain some of the other Ayurvedic remedies that a person can try out to relieve cough and cold.

Home remedies: Ayurveda points the kitchen to get relief from a cough and cold. Ingredients from the kitchen shelf can help a lot, along with medications. Ginger juice is an effective way to treat a cold and cough. This helps in ejecting mucus. To try out this remedy, an individual can prepare fresh ginger juice and add turmeric (one-fourth teaspoon), tulsi leaves juice and honey (half teaspoon each) and a pinch of black pepper powder to it. Mix everything together. If you want to use it multiple times, you can increase the quantities in the same ratio and refrigerate it. Consume one and a half teaspoon of the mixture at least three to four times a day to get relief from a cough. For children, give half the quantity thrice a day. This is an excellent remedy to relieve a cough and cold without leading to any side-effects.

Gargling also helps. Mix a spoon of salt to warm water. Gargle twice a day with this. Chewing cardamom buds and cloves also help in eliminating cough. You can also take four black raisins and add a pinch of rock salt and black pepper powder to them. Dry roast and take this three times a day. You need to eat this for at least for 15 days.

Otherwise, take a glass of water. Boil with licorice powder and black pepper powder (half teaspoon each). Grate fresh ginger and add one spoon of it to the mixture. Add 10 basil leaves, and make a decoction of everything. The water should turn half the quantity. Palm candy can be added to sweeten the decoction. Try this instead of coffee or tea in the morning and evening to relieve cold and cough.

Dietary changes: Take lots of fresh pulses with grains. Taking pulses with grains help in gaining all the goodness of the pulses. Green gram, yellow lentils, and red lentils can offer nutrients that are required and are easy to digest. Vegetables such as pumpkin, marrow, squashes, ivy gourd, ridge gourd, snake gourd, smooth gourd, onions, beetroot, celery, carrots, and parsnips can be consumed as well. However, consume cooked vegetables only. Grains such as rice, oats, and millets are good choices. You should refrain from taking wheat and processed flour. Almonds, apricots, figs, dates, and hazel nuts are beneficial. Limit your consumption of fish, chicken, and turkey. Red meat can be taken twice a week. Avoid dairy milk. You can take soy milk or oat milk as a replacement.

Lifestyle changes: Quit smoking. The health of the lungs can be damaged to the core with smoking and this can also lead to cancer. When you suffer from chronic cold and cough, immediately consult a doctor, if you smoke. Avoid exposure to pollens, dust, and pollutants. Use a mask while driving, and cover ears and nose exposed to cold.

Talk less: This gives enough rest to vocal cords. Taking warm water instead of plain water is a good option. Take tea made of herbs. Tulsi, mint leaves, and ginger can be added to the herbal tea. Do not mix milk with tea. Take a balanced diet and keep yourself away from processed and junk foods.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

4 people found this helpful

Pollution - Know How It Can Cause Chest Related Diseases!

Homeopath, Navi Mumbai
Pollution - Know How It Can Cause Chest Related Diseases!

Chest-related diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, congestion, and conjunctivitis are caused by various factors but off late, pollution has emerged as one of the prime culprits responsible for wreaking havoc on the chests of people. Nowadays, no one is immune from the ill-effects of air pollution. Be it children, adults, or the elderly, everyone is vulnerable to the smoke and toxin-filled air that has led to a rise in chest-related diseases such as coughing, congestion, breathing difficulties and similar disorders.

As, pollution is a constant problem, engulfing every city day after day, one is always prone to chest-related diseases and many people resort to allopathic medicines or home remedies to get rid of these problems. These remedies do provide relief but most of the time, it is temporary. Homeopathic medicine, on the other hand, has been found to be highly effective in treating chest-related problems and disorders. There are a good number of homeopathic medications available out there that can cure these diseases completely and provide permanent relief as well.

Also, these medicines do not carry any side effects. They are totally safe and can be taken by children as well as adults without any fear. The following are some of the common homeopathic medicines that can cure chest-related diseases caused by air pollution.

  1. Phosphorous: This is very useful against problems caused by air pollutants, including conjunctivitis, asthmatic bronchitis, rhinitis, emphysema, and leukemia. It also helps with breathing problems such as shortness of breath, tightness in chest, heaviness, and coughing.
  2. Sulphurous acid: It is very helpful in fighting persistent coughing, hoarseness, chest congestion, and constriction.
  3. Natrum muriaticum: It is effective in treating cold sores, headache, allergy, and runny nose caused by a chest infection.
  4. Sulphur: This works wonders for problems such as conjunctivitis and headache.
  5. Bryonia: It is most suited in cases of persistent coughing, loose cough, dry cough, painful cough, headache, and fever.
  6. Bromium: It is the best remedy in case of dust allergy, asthma, dry cough, and difficulty in breathing while sleeping.
  7. Ammonium Carbonate: This is highly effective in frequent sneezing, plenty of discharge from nose, nose blocking at night, breathing through the mouth, difficulty in sleeping, emphysematous changes in lungs, a sensation of dust particles in the throat, wheezing, dry cough, and choking.
  8. Spongia: It is known to work best against asthmatic bronchitis, dryness of the respiratory tract, rapid short breathing, waking up suddenly at night, and wheezing. It also brings relief in uneasiness caused by sudden changes in atmosphere and smoke.

All these homeopathic remedies have proven to be of great help in curing chest-related diseases and providing long-term relief to patients across age groups. Nevertheless, anyone who decides to take any of these medications should consult a homeopathy doctor first. The doctor will prescribe the right medication after diagnosing the problem. Self-medication should be avoided but if one wants to take these homeopathic medicines along with other medicines, one can do so as the former do not result in any side effect.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

6160 people found this helpful

Whooping Cough In Kids - How Homeopathy Can Help You Get Relief?

BHMS, MD - Homeopathy
Homeopath, Navi Mumbai
Whooping Cough In Kids - How Homeopathy Can Help You Get Relief?

Cough and cold are very daunting diseases for anyone out there. Especially for people who have a tendency of catching cold easily. Nobody likes to have a runny nose, vigorous cough and fever. But all these symptoms occur when anyone suffers from cough and cold. However, the symptoms get doubled when anyone suffers with Whooping cough. Though any kind of chronic cough can be severe enough but whooping cough is the most panic striking among them all. 

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough begins with a little respiratory illness and includes runny nose, relentless cough. In later stages a development of vivid, copious mucus with the cough and the whoop sound while coughing develops. Whooping cough can be treated safely. If we look at the homeopathic treatment, there are various remedies for whooping cough. But first and foremost, it is very important to boost your immunity. Good immunity helps you to recover faster. Next you need to add nutrition to your diet, which are very important for your health. So intake green veggies and fruits as much as you can. Talking about the homeopathy treatment, yes there are some common homeopathic medicines available, which are prescribed for whooping cough. However, it depends upon individuals and their condition as to which one would be prescribed. 

Listed are homeopathic medicines for whooping cough:

  1. Antimonium tartaricum: This medicine is prescribed if anyone suffers with scanty and prolific cough along with difficulties in chest or lung. The patient may get mucus with cough, but it hardly comes out. As a result, the patient might end up vomiting in an effort to expel the mucus. The cough can be worse in this case, and the patient might feel breathless often. This medicine is prescribed in such a condition when the chest is filled with mucus, but it barely comes out. 
  2. Drosera: This medicine is prescribed when a person experiences convulsions of coughing and ends up having cyanosis and shortness of breathing. The cough will be worse, especially at night, and the patient may end up vomiting. There is a chance of getting cramps in feet and hands while coughing.
  3. Belladona: This is a very common medicine for whooping cough, which is usually prescribed in the early feverish stages of whooping cough. If taken properly, it can be effective in terms of curing the illness. 

Mostly in the coughing stage, patients may face violent cough with red nose and bulging out of eyes, there can be abdominal pain too. Severe irritation in larynx and headache too are noticed in this period. All the above mentioned homeopathic medicines are likely to be used in treating whooping cough infection.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

5142 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

Hi I am a 26 years old female. I am having cough from 2 months. I have been to many doctors and had many medicines but no cure. Doctors said that I am having allergic cough. I have done CBP test, ESR test, and thyroid test. My cbp is good. But my ESR is very high, it should be 29 but my ESR is 86. My thyroid is normal, i.e, I do not have thyroid. After seeing the ESR report the doctor said that i am having an infection in my blood due to which i am coughing. He prescribed medicines but no cure. Please prescribe some medicines or some help to get rid of cough. I can not handle it now. Please help me. Thank you.

Doctor of Homeopathic Medicine (M.D.), Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine & Surgery (BHMS), Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology
Homeopath, Mumbai
Hi lybrate-user, Allergies are very common causes of any kind of persistent cough, cold and headaches. ESR becomes high in any kind of infection or allergy. I would strongly recommend you to go in for homeopathic treatment. It will treat the allergy from the roots and take care of your cough, as well as prevent any further symptoms in future. You can get in touch with me to know how we can do this.
1 person found this helpful

I have all the time cough problems and get blood out from mouth. I take medicine but after few days condition becomes same.

MBBS, MD TUBERCULOSIS AND CHEST DISEASES, Diploma in Tuberculosis & Chest Diseases, Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Pulmonologist, Kolkata
Sputum for AFB two samples Chest X-ray PA view consult a pulmonologist with the reports for management of hemoptysis. Wish you good health.

I have severe cough even when I'm inhaling. Its uncontrollable. What should i do?

MD (Physician), MD (Pulmonology)
Pulmonologist, Bareilly
Dear Lybrateuser, your mentioned symptoms are symptoms of Chest Infection. You can try steam inhalation for temporary relief, but you may need an opinion from a Pulmonologist. Wishing you good health.

Hello sir, my age is 29 yrs. Two months ago I was suffering from BPPV, I consult an ENT specialist, he gave me medicine & I was OK. But last 3 days I am coughing with chest pain, ribs pain & back side neck pain. When I am looking to sky above of my neck something triggering & I am feeling unbalanced, my feet is tumbling, feeling very much dizzy. What is happening to me please help.

MBBS, MD - Internal Medicine, DM - Cardiology, Fellowship in EP
Cardiologist, Delhi
Pain on coughing is minor illness. Unbalanced is mild attack vertigo, similar to previous BPPV. Should be fine in few days. Paracetamol, rest, and discuss with ENT or physician if worsening.
4 people found this helpful

My brother is 20 years old. He drinks alcohol frequently. Last year and two days before (two times) he vomitted blood and had to hospitalised. How can we treat him to back to a healthy life. What is his condition Doctor? Pls reply Dr.

Homeopath, Kolkata
I do think, it is serious condition. So need some investigation accordingly. If possible please take appointment. Thank you.

Table of Content

What is Cough?

Causes of Cough

Risk factors


Diagnosis and treatment