Cough can occur as a symptom of various diseases. The most common causes are colds. Depending on the duration of the cough, a distinction is made between acute and chronic cough.
The duration of acute cough is less than three weeks. The cause is usually a cold, which triggers an inflammation of the respiratory tract by viruses or bacteria. In rare cases, a pulmonary embolism can also be responsible for cough.
Chronic cough extends over a period of more than three weeks. There are several possible causes, which should be found out through a medical examination. The most common causes include:
- Chronic bronchitis (for example, smoker's cough).
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Dilatation of the bronchial tubes (emphysema)
- Chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses)
- Heart failure (cardiac insufficiency)
- Reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux)
- Side effects of medications (such as ACE inhibitors)
Rarely, a tumor disease of the lung can also be the trigger for a chronic cough.
Coughs can be differentiated according to the following criteria:
Mucus-producing (productive) cough:
The most common causes of cough are colds, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Increased mucus production can also be caused by asthma or other allergic reactions. This coughed up mucus usually has a liquid consistency and is crystal clear in color. In colds, it takes on a yellowish or greenish color and is tough.
Coughing up blood:
Cough with bloody sputum may have the following diseases as its cause: Pulmonary embolism, tuberculosis, heart failure or lung cancer. Rarely, clotting disorders, such as hemophilia, may also trigger the cough.
Irritative cough is triggered as a reflex to dust or particles in the lungs. However, it can also be caused by certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors, as a side effect. Sometimes, an irritating cough can also indicate a pulmonary embolism.