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A cough is an abrupt, often recurring, spasmodic contraction of the thoracic cavity, following in violent release of air from the lungs, and frequently accompanied by a distinguishing sound.

Cough Lung diseases

Coughing is an action the body takes to get rid of matter that is irritating the air passages. A cough is usually initiated to clear a buildup of phlegm in the trachea; air may move through this channel at up to 480 km/h (300 mph) during a contraction. Coughing can also be initiated by a bolus of food going down the trachea instead of the esophagus, due to a malfunction of the epiglottis, although this may result in choking instead. Chronic coughing usually indicates the existence of a disease. If the patient is a non-smoker and has a normal chest X-ray, then the cause of chronic cough in 93% of all patients is due to asthma, reflux (heartburn) or post-nasal drip. Other causes of chronic cough include chronic bronchitis and medications such as ACE inhibitors. Coughing can occur voluntarily as well as involuntarily.

Coughing during an injection can decrease the pain of the needle stick caused by a sudden, temporary rise in pressure in the chest and spinal canal, inhibiting the pain-conducting structures of the spinal cord.


The physiological result of coughing is responsible in part to the vagus nerve, which goes through the lungs to the brain. The vagus nerve is triggered when capsaicin is released, which stimulates the sensory nerve endings. Centrally acting cough suppressants, such as codeine and dextromethorphan, lessens the urge to cough by hindering the capsaicin-induced sensory nerve by depolarization of the vagus nerve. One of the frequent presentations to the medical practitioner is dry cough. The common causes of chronic dry cough include post-nasal drip; Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Cough variant asthma; Drugs like beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, Aspirin, which should be examined in people above 40 years; Post viral bronchial hyperresponsiveness; and Habitual Cough. When cough exists for more than a couple of weeks vaious causes are likely and only when all the causes are treated will the patient be asymptomatic.

Beyond the physiological reasons for coughing there are also psychological reasons for coughing otherwise known as psychogenic or habit coughing. (Such as one who coughs or clears their throat before a public speech as a means to gain the interest of the audience or maybe relieve their own nervousness) Steruphilia is a condition in which the person loves the sound of coughing or sneezing. If one has ever sat near a person who seems to enjoy coughing or sneezing loudly they may have hay-fever, or they might possibly be a steruphiliac.


The complications of coughing can be considered as either acute or chronic. Acute complications include cough syncope, fainting spells when coughs are extended and forceful due to lessened blood flow to the brain, secondary to raised intrathoracic pressure due to cough. Other acute complications include insomnia, cough induced vomiting, chest pain due to muscular strain of constant coughing, rupture of bulla causing pneumothorax. In critical cases, prolonged coughing can cause fatigue fractures of lower ribs and costochondritis, an swelling of the connective tissue between the breastbone and the ribs. Chronic complications are customary. In certain cases, it can even lead to abdominal or pelvic hernias. In women with prolapse uterus, cough micturition (urination) occur. Cough defecation can also happen.


Coughs can be addressed with cough medicines. Dry coughs are treated with cough suppressants (antitussives) that stop the body's urge to cough, while productive coughs (coughs that produce phlegm) are treated with expectorants that breakup the mucus in the respiratory tract. A recent study shows that, because of the presence of theobromine in chocolate, 50 grams of dark chocolate may be helpful in treatment for a persistent cough.

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