Cough is a fairly common symptom inrespiratory diseases, an unpleasant manifestation of the disease, which can harm both the patient and others. This symptom can be a sign not only of a cold, but also of the pathology of the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, alimentary canal, central nervous system, etc.

Stages of cough

Physiologically, cough is the most important defense mechanism that helps to remove foreign substances from the respiratory tract. The mechanism of cough development is associated with irritation of the corresponding vagus nerve receptors, concentrated in the area of ​​reflexogenic zones, which include the mucous membrane of the larynx, tracheal bifurcation, and large bronchi. At the same time, both the effect on the “fast” or irritative receptors of mechanical and chemical stimuli, and on the “slow” C-receptors of inflammatory mediators is important. Cough can also be caused by irritation of receptors concentrated in the external auditory canal, the mucous membrane of the paranasal sinuses and pharynx, as well as reflex zones located on the pleura, parietal peritoneum, diaphragm, and pericardium. In this article, we will consider the possible causes and diagnosis of the phenomenon.

In diseases of the respiratory system, the nature and intensity of coughing depend on the predominant affected area. So, for laryngitis, the appearance of a rough, "barking" cough, accompanied by hoarseness of voice or aphonia, is characteristic. With tracheitis, the development of a dry cough with a feeling of soreness behind the sternum is typical. It should be noted that the defeat of the respiratory tract of an infectious nature is more often characterized by the appearance of an acute cough that lasts no more than 3 months. At the same time, with a number of infectious diseases, a prolonged (more than 2 weeks) cough is observed.

There are three stages of cough. The first is by inhalation. The second is increased pressure in the throat and lungs with closed vocal cords. The last, and most serious, is the explosive release of air as the vocal cords open, giving the cough its characteristic sound. If someone coughs a lot, it may be a sign of illness. Many types of phenomena are caused by infectious diseases, such as SARS, but there are also non-infectious causes.

When should I see a doctor?

If the cough is severe, the patient should be informed by the physician. If the symptom persists for 3 weeks without improvement, it is also advisable to visit a doctor. In most cases, there may be nothing serious underlying it, but in rare situations, a long-term symptom causes immediate treatment, such as lung cancer or heart failure.

Other reasons to seek qualified medical attention:

  • cough getting worse;
  • there is swelling or lumps in the neck;
  • weight loss;
  • severe cough;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • constant change in the sound of the voice;
  • coughing up blood;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • chest pain;
  • feeling unwell.

Cough is the body's response to obstructions in the throat or airways. These stimuli send a message to the brain, which then tells the muscles in your chest and abdomen to push the air out of your lungs in order to expel the stimulus. Occasional coughing also occurs and is considered normal and healthy. However, coughing that persists for several weeks or that produces mucuswith pus or blood streaksmay indicate a medical emergency. From time to time the attack becomes very strong. A prolonged, violent cough is draining and can cause insomnia, headaches, urinary incontinence, and even broken ribs.

Diagnosing the problem

If the doctor decides that the cough is caused by a cold, the general advice is to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take an expectorant. In most cases, this symptom subsides after 1-2 weeks. A cough caused by a viral infection that persists for more than two weeks is likely to require careful medical attention. The doctor may order some diagnostic tests, such as a chest x-ray, sputum analysis (a sputum sample is sent to a laboratory to determine the infectious agent).

The patient is asked to inhale and exhale into a tube attached to a machine to help the doctor determine if the airway is obstructed (this test is called spirometry). When diagnosing asthma, medications are prescribed to relieve attacks and treat asthma. Sometimes a doctor may refer a patient to a lung or ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

The type of cough can also help in determining the disease. For example, a "barking" sound when coughing increases the likelihood that the cough may be caused by whooping cough. Small amounts of blood can be shed in a severe cough for many reasons, but large amounts indicate tuberculosis or primary lung cancer.

Causes of Cough

Most types of cough are caused by viruses, bacteria, and even sometimes go away without treatment. It could be an allergic cough. Do not forget that there are chronicdiseases with cough. Causes of chronic (long-term) coughing include smoking, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), asthma, and the use of certain medications (such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors). An attack can start when mucus runs down the throat from the back of the nose (after nasal drops). Chronic cough in children is most commonly caused by asthma, but can be triggered by conditions such as nasal drops or GERD. Less common causes of the chronic type of cough in adults are tuberculosis, fungal lung infections, and lung cancer.

Most common causes:

  • influenza ;
  • ORZ;
  • laryngitis;
  • bronchitis;
  • pneumonia.

Coughing is a defense mechanism to clear the airways. Although it is impossible to always accurately determine its causes. Below they are described in detail, including symptoms. This will make it easier to determine the etiology of the symptom.

Instillation of nasal drops into the nose provokes either dry or wet cough. It can also be caused by mucus running down the throat (due to cold or allergies) that irritates the nerve endings. This situation worsens at night: there is a ticklish feeling in the throat. If it's due to allergies, you may also have itchy eyes and sneezing.

Choking is characterized by a dry cough that ends in wheezing. In people with asthma, the inflamed airways cause difficulty breathing as well as wheezing. Other symptoms: cough worse at night or during exercise; chest tightness; erratic breathing; fatigue. To confirm asthma, your doctor will likely do a spirometry. There are two types of medications for treatment: bronchodilators, which make breathing easier, and medications that you take daily to control your asthma.

If you suffer from GERD, you will probably notice a dry, convulsive cough. A symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is when acid from the stomach enters the esophagus. It is in fact the second most common cause of chronic cough, accounting for about 40% of cases. Other symptoms: cough becomes more frequent when lying or sitting. The classic sign is a cough that starts as soon as you go to bed. About 75% of patients with GERD and chronic cough have no other symptoms, but if they do, it's heartburn and hoarseness. An x-ray or endoscopy can confirm this cause.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be the cause of a persistent cough, one of its symptoms is a chronic cough that produces a lot of mucus, especially in the morning. COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, includes both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, with smoking being the main cause. Other symptoms: tickling and coughing improves towards the end of the day; shortness of breath, especially with exercise; wheezing, fatigue and chest tightness. Your doctor will usually recommend lung function tests such as spirometry and a chest x-ray. The disease is treated mainly with drugs (bronchodilators and inhaled steroids). In this case, you need to quit smoking. In extreme situations, you may need more serious therapy.

In some cases, drugs also cause coughing. A group of drugs known as ACE inhibitors are commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure (they can cause this symptom in about 20% of patients). Other tell-tale symptoms: Cough starts a few weeks after starting these substances. If you have a mild cough, you may be able to switch to another ACE inhibitor.

Pneumonia is accompanied by a dry cough that turns into a loose cough with yellow, green or red sputum after a few days. Other symptoms: fever; chills; labored breathing; pain with deep breathing. Your doctor will determine if you have pneumonia by listening to your chest with a stethoscope. Sometimes x-rays and blood tests may be needed to determine whether the disease is viral or bacterial.

Whooping cough causes a very severe cough that ends in wheezing during inspiration. For a long time, this disease was extremely rare thanks to vaccines introduced back in the 1940s. Now it is on the rise. The first symptoms are similar to a cold: runny nose, watery eyes, fever, cough. About a week later, the classic coughing fits appear. Whooping cough is diagnosed by clinical findings, blood tests and chest x-ray results, confirmed by isolation of the pathogen from sputum, treated with antibiotics and symptomatic agents.

Causes of cough can be different. However, the appearance of this symptom indicates the development of the disease and requires examination by a specialist.

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