see also Cough in Children, Whooping Cough
Caused by irritation of mucous membranes lining trachea and airways of lungs. Coughing consists of three phases: expanding lungs to breath in, contracting lungs to breathe out while the glottis at top of windpipe is closed, then suddenly opening the glottis and allowing air to rush out of the lungs at nearly 1,000 km (600 miles) an hour! Most often associated with Colds (in which catarrh dripping down back of nose irritates vocal cords) and a Sore Throat (infected lining of throat), but can also be a symptom of Heart Failure and oesophageal reflux (see Hiatus Hernia). Sudden bouts of coughing can also be caused by inhaling dust, fumes, or foreign bodies; if coughing does not wear off within 24-48 hours, call your medical doctor.
A cough accompanied by a high temperature may be Influenza (aches and chills, runny nose) or acute Bronchitis (thick yellow phlegm coughed up, wheezing); in chronic bronchitis, coughing is most marked in morning, with copious yellow sputum, and persists for months at a time. A dry cough which has persisted for more than a month, with occasional production of blood-flecked sputum, may be a sign of Tuberculosis or cancer of the lung, see Cancer. Coughing, a high temperature, and difficult breathing may signify Pneumonia; appropriate action is consult your doctor if there is no improvement in 2 hours.
If any of conditions above is suspected, see appropriate entry for description and treatment. Be very wary of cough suppressants, as overuse in young children can inhibit respiratory signals from brain, resulting in respiratory failure.
See remedies in Cough