What is a Cough?

What is a Cough

What is a Cough?

In simple terms, a cough is a natural reflex that helps protect your lungs and respiratory system. It occurs when your body senses an irritant or obstruction in the airway, prompting you to clear it out by expelling air forcefully. Coughs can be classified into two main categories: acute and chronic.

Acute Cough

An acute cough is a short-term cough that lasts for less than three weeks. It’s commonly caused by viral infections, such as the common cold or flu, and usually resolves on its own without any specific treatment.

Further details: Acute Cough: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Chronic Cough

On the other hand, a chronic cough persists for more than eight weeks and may signal an underlying medical condition. Common causes include asthma, chronic bronchitis, allergies, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), smoking, and even certain medications.

Further Reading: What is a Chronic Cough?

Managing Your Cough

Over-the-Counter Remedies

For mild to moderate coughs, over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressants and expectorants may provide some relief. Suppressants work to calm the cough reflex, while expectorants help loosen and expel mucus. Speak to a pharmacist to find the best OTC remedy for your symptoms.

In some cases, taking painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may also help reduce your discomfort. Remember to always follow the recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare professional if your symptoms worsen or persist.

Home Remedies


Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, can help alleviate cough symptoms by thinning mucus and soothing an irritated throat.


Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air may ease congestion and improve breathing.


A spoonful of honey, especially before bedtime, may help soothe a cough due to its natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Further reading: 10 Ways To Stop Coughing at Night

When to See a Doctor

If your cough persists, worsens, or is accompanied by high fever, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, it’s important to seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider can assess your condition and recommend appropriate treatments.

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