Young, old, male, female, tall, short, in North America, Asia, and Africa – it doesn’t matter who we are or where we’re from we all do it. We cough. But what exactly is a cough and why do we do it? Yes, it’s an odd question and probably one you’ve never put too much thought into, either. But in simplest terms a cough is a reflexive reaction designed to clear something from our throats. Though we can obviously do it command, it’s usually an involuntary reaction to an irritant or blockage. Believe it or not there are actually several different cough types, a number of which you’ve more that likely experienced your self at one time or another.
What Do Different Cough Types Mean?
Not all coughs sound the same, and usually what they sound like is a clue to what is actually causing them. Let’s look at four different cough types.
Asthma is usually associated with a dry cough, as is influenza and the common cold. With asthma, the cough will often end with a wheeze and usually worsen during vigorous activity or at night. Sometimes blood pressure medications can also trigger a dry cough.
Dry, Turning Wet After A Few Days
If a cough starts off dry and then starts sounding wet, particularly with a yellow or green mucus, you could very well have pneumonia. Also be on the lookout for chills, fever, and pain when coughing.
Though once virtually eradicated through the use of vaccines, whooping cough (also known as pertussis) now seems to be making a comeback. It’s a severe cough, and got its name from the wheezing sound made after you cough and you’re trying to refill your lungs with air. With pertussis, what starts out sounding like a common cold will within a week turn so extreme you may actually end up vomiting from the intensity.
Hacking Cough With Mucus
If you find yourself waking up with a harsh, mucus-filled cough that grows less intense as the day goes on, you may have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It’s mainly associated with smokers, and it may also be accompanied by fatigue and tightness in the chest.
If you have a cough that doesn’t seem to want to let go, make sure to see your care provider for a complete checkup and cardiovascular evaluation. Coughs are a warning sign that you should always take seriously – especially if it’s more than just for clearing your throat.