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Coughs clear the throat of irritants, including microbes and mucus. Most everyone has a cough on occasion but coughs that last may hint at more significant health problems. Usually, acute coughs clear up within a few days to a week, but chronic coughs that last over that typically signal the need for a trip to the doctor. As strange as it seems, common coughs often point to a variety of condition you shouldn’t ignore. Doctors observe the symptoms and types of cough you have to figure out the possible causes. These vary from insignificant issues to fatal illnesses, making it essential to seek medical advice.

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Smoking

Though smoking is responsible for numerous ill effects, the problems it causes with your respiratory system seem the worst. Smoking often damages the entire respiratory tract, causing permanent damage to the hair-like structures that protect it. This leaves your lungs open to all kinds of irritants, so your body triggers a cough to expel them. Excessive smoking may even result in bloody coughing, and if you don’t quit, could lead to worse conditions, including bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, most of the time a cough caused by smoking goes away after you quit the habit.

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Chest Infections

Primarily caused by the virus responsible for the common cold, chest infections move into deeper areas of the lungs. These areas have less protection, so they don’t have much defense against bacterial invaders. This often results in coughing that expels grayish green phlegm. This typically feels like the onset of a common cold plus fever and coughing. Fortunately, these infections usually go away on their own. However, you can take medicines that suppress your cough, though they may or may not work. Further, antibiotics do not affect viruses, making taking them useless for this issue.

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Tuberculosis

Though most people think tuberculosis was eradicated, it still affects lots of people. Responsible for the most severe and persistent coughs of all, this disease features symptoms that include extreme coughing, fatigue, bloody coughing, sweating while sleeping and weight loss. Extremely contagious, this condition requires 6 to 12 months of strong antibiotics for a cure. Many doctors combine various antibiotics to remove the responsible bacteria while preventing its immunity against single medicines.

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Pertussis

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a severely infectious disease that causes weeks or even months of coughing fits that leave you gasping for air. Although not very serious for adults, this condition can prove fatal to infants. For this reason, doctors recommend vaccinating babies against the disease, but the vaccine loses its effect over time. Since the disease often takes weeks to go away, doctors typically prescribe both antimicrobial and cough-relieving medicines.

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Heart Trouble

Heart disorders and malfunctions sometimes lead to coughs. These issues cause body fluids to enter the lungs, which often triggers persistent coughs along with fatigue that leaves you tired after exerting yourself even minimally. Getting to a doctor for immediate attention is a good idea when you have these symptoms because fast treatment often means the difference between life and death for those with major heart problems.

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Medicinal Cough

Sometimes, medicines are responsible for coughs. Usually, medicines prescribed for blood pressure prove the culprits with symptoms like dry coughs that get worse at night. If you notice you’re coughing within a few days of taking new medication, this may be the cause. In this instance, talk to your doctor about your suspicions. In many cases, doctors issue alternative medicines to provide cough relief.

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Lung Cancer

Coughs sometimes point to serious conditions such as lung cancer. Caused primarily by smoking, these coughs usually stick around and get worse over time. Bleeding during coughing, chest pain, fatigue and weakness are also symptoms of this disease, but it’s difficult to diagnose lung cancer on these symptoms alone. Doctors usually use biopsies and lung imaging tests to confirm it. Treatments for this disease include radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy and medicines that specifically target the cancer cells. Further, treatment and effectiveness vary based on the cancer’s stage.

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Asthma

Asthma causes swelling of the airways, which makes breathing difficult. Coughs that get worse at night combined with a wheezing sound often point to asthma as a culprit. The wheezing sound means something sits in the way of airflow, and this also causes symptoms that include breathlessness and difficulties sleeping. If you already have asthma, the onset of a cough may point to a worsening condition and the need to change up your treatment. Oral inhalers, medicines and even practicing yoga breathing techniques often prove effective for this disorder.

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A Viral Cough

Perhaps the most common cause of coughing, viral infections typically induce inflammation and coughing even after the underlying condition goes away. A backflow of mucus in the through usually causes this, so cough syrups usually provide relief. Hot fluids also work well against the inflammation, though you may need nasal sprays in severe cases. Check with your doctor if a cough doesn’t go away within a reasonable timeframe to ensure you don’t need extra medicine or that you don’t have another issue.

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Heartburn

Heartburn sometimes causes infections in the throat canal, which in turn causes coughing. A backflow of stomach acid in the esophagus due to the weakening of the valve, heartburn and subsequent coughs typically arise after filling or unhealthy meals. Coughs due to this usually occur if you go to sleep after a heavy dinner, making avoiding hearty meals near bedtime an easy way to reduce coughing. Sleeping with a larger pillow may also help prevent acid from rising to your throat. Medications that reduce stomach acids most often do the trick if your issues persist.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.