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Coughing is an important way to keep your throat and
airways clear. However, excessive coughing may mean
you have an underlying disease or disorder.
Some coughs are dry, while others are
considered productive. A productive cough is one that
brings up mucus. Mucus is also called phlegm or sputum.
Coughs can be either acute or chronic:
- Acute coughs usually begin suddenly. They are often
due to a cold, flu, or sinus infection. They usually
go away after 2 to 3 weeks.
- Chronic coughs last longer than 2 to 3 weeks.
Besides recent upper airways infections,
such as the common cold and flu, other common causes
of coughs include:
- Allergies and asthma
- Lung infections such as pneumonia or acute bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema
or chronic bronchitis)
- Sinusitis leading to postnasal drip
- Lung disease such as bronchiectasis, interstitial
lung disease, or tumors
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Cigarette smoking
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Exposure to air pollutants
- ACE inhibitors (medications used to control blood