Coughing is an important way to keep your throat and airways free, but excessive coughing may be because of an underlying disease or disorder. Some coughs are dry and others are mucus productive.

Acute coughs are sudden, caused by cold, flu or sinus infection and may last two to three weeks and chronic cough lasts longer than this.

The other sources of coughs include:

• Cigarette smoking
• Passive smoking
• Exposure to environmental pollution
• ACE inhibitors (drugs used to control blood pressure)
• Asthma
• Allergies
• Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
• Lung infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia
• Lung tumours
• Sinusitis
• Dust
• Environmental air pollution
• Side effects of drugs

Children may develop coughs from diseases or causes which usually do not affect adults, such as croup, bronchiolitis, infection of the lower respiratory system caused by respiratory syncytial virus. Passive smoking, blockage of the airway with food or small toy or balloons and emotional or psychological problems can also cause cough in children.

Croup is a common respiratory problem seen in children between 1 and 3 years old, the symptoms are hoarseness, barking cough, striedon, a high pitched sound heard when breathing in and difficulty in breathing and is caused by a virus which affects the throat and upper airways. It can recur till the children become 5 or 6 years old and it could be avoided by humidifying the room where the children used to stay. If the symptoms are severe, go to your doctor, he may give medicines and if necessary oxygen also.

Bronchiolitis is the infection of small air passages and is also caused by a virus and it affects the children below 2 years. The symptoms include difficulty in breathing, rapid breathing and wheezing and it is better to go to the doctor if the breathing frequency increases considerably.

Remember, a cough is a symptom, but not a disease, a right diagnose must find out the real reason and the treatment with antibiotics could also be very carefully done only if pneumonia is diagnosed. Otherwise, aspirin, Paracetamol or ibuprofen is used to reduce fever and pains and headaches and children below 16 years should not take aspirin. Children could also be treated in the same way. If you use over-the-counter drugs, note always the content so that the patient, for example, should not get double the dose of Paracetamol because most of the over-the-counter drugs may also contain Paracetamol.

Codeine and dihydrocodeine can also be used in cough treatment.

If cough is a side effect of a drug contact your doctor immediately. I have seen persons who have coughed 10 years or more unnecessarily.

For common cold or cough you can also use grandmother’s mixtures which will help in most of the cases.