Cough Q&A What is Coughing?

Suffering from Chronic Cough? Pulmonary medicine physician, Andrea Espinoza, MD, FCCP, at OCSM can help.

Cough Q&A

What is coughing?

Coughing is an action that clears your throat or your airways. You might cough on purpose if you feel dust, mucus, or other irritants in your throat or airway, or it might happen involuntarily as your body’s response to such substances. When you cough, your lungs expel air rapidly.

When you think of coughing, you might think of the common cold or the flu. Cold and flu are causes of acute coughing, a symptom that lasts no more than two or three weeks. Acute coughs typically resolve themselves and don’t require treatment beyond home care. 

What is a chronic cough?

A chronic cough is coughing that lasts for longer than two to three weeks. Chronic coughs are typically due to underlying medical conditions affecting your lungs. You might also have more than one condition that contributes to your chronic cough, and it often gets worse over time without an effective way to treat or manage the underlying condition. Some possible causes of chronic cough are:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Smoking
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Lung cancer

Chronic coughs can be either wet or dry. Wet coughs produce mucus, while dry coughs only consist of air. If your cough lasts for weeks and you’re not sure of the cause, the team at Orthopedic Center for Sports Medicine might recommend pulmonary function testing or a computed tomography (CT) scan to gain insight about your lung’s functioning and health. Once they determine the cause of your chronic cough, they can create an effective treatment plan with long-term monitoring to ease your symptoms. 

How is chronic cough treated?

Treatment for your chronic cough depends on the underlying cause. At Orthopedic Center for Sports Medicine, the team diagnoses you and discusses your treatment options for your condition. In most cases, the best way to treat conditions causing chronic cough is with a combination of one or more strategies. Depending on your diagnosis, the team might tell you to:

  • Stop smoking
  • Take medications like decongestants or antihistamines
  • Take corticosteroids
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Use a humidifier in your home
  • Undergo pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Undergo oxygen therapy

If you have a condition causing a chronic cough, the team might ask that you come in regularly for pulmonary function testing to see how well your treatment is working to improve your breathing. Using the results of pulmonary function tests, they can adjust your treatment plan to improve your symptoms as necessary. 

To ease your chronic cough and other symptoms associated with your condition, call Orthopedic Center for Sports Medicine or schedule an appointment online today. 

Visit us online at:

or call us at 504-889-2663.

Andrea G. Espinoza MD Board Certified Pulmonologist Board Certified LifeStyle Medicine

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