Cough is a natural reflex of the body that can facilitate better breathing by clearing the airways. The function of cough is to protect the lungs from irritating substances. It is normal to cough a little bit sometimes. However, chronic cough indicates that there may be problems in the respiratory system or other parts of the human body. Cough can either be productive which produces excessive mucus or phlegm, or non-productive which has no mucus or phlegm. Non-productive cough can be described as dry cough which is caused by inflammation of the upper airway due to dust, foreign bodies or a throat infection.
Common causes of cough:
- Entry of foreign substances into the respiratory tract, such as nasal discharge, food, water or dust.
- Inhalation of irritating gas such as smoke and exhaust gas.
- Infection of virus or bacteria, such as flu.
- Allergic reactions such as allergic asthma.
- Respiratory tract diseases such as bronchitis, tracheitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis and emphysema.
- Irritation of respiratory tract such as acid regurgitation, which may lead to night cough
- Drink water and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Dry air in winter may irritate our throats. A humidifier can help relieving congestion and breathing.
- If cough is due to acid regurgitation, it is advisable to elevate the head of your bed with a pillow during sleeping.
- Avoid eating or drinking 2-3 hours before sleeping.
- If cough persists for 2-3 weeks, or is accompanied with fever, shortness of breath or blood in the mucus, seek medical advice immediately.