This is a very non-specific symptom and can be described as a forced expulsive manoeuvre usually against a close glottis with an associated characteristic sound (1).
- it can be elicited from the larynx, trachea or bronchi
- helps out in clearing foreign objects and excessive secretions from the airways (1)
- inspiratory phase (an inspiratory effort) followed by
- compressive phase (forced expiratory effort against a closed glottis) followed by
- expulsive phase (opening of the glottis and rapid expiratory airflow) (2)
Cough is triggered when mechanical or chemical irritatants stimulate sensory cough-inducing receptors in the respiratory tract (1). Some common airway irritants include:
- inhaled irritants like smoke, dust, dandruff
- allergens e.g. - animal allergens, pollen
- chemicals (1)
Cough can be categorised according the duration in to:
- acute – duration is less than 3 weeks
- subacute – between 3 to 8 weeks in duration
- chronic – lasting for more than 8 weeks (1).
Note that a persisting acute cough may develop in to a subacute or chronic cough (3).
- (1) Dicpinigaitis PV et al. Acute cough: a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Cough. 2009;5:11
- (2) Widdicombe J, Fontana G. Cough: what's in a name? Eur Respir J. 2006;28(1):10-5
- (3) Pratter MR, et al. An empiric integrative approach to the management of cough: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2006;129(1 Suppl):222S-231S
Last edited 03/2020 and last reviewed 03/2020