Cough In Adults - Treatment, Causes And Symptoms

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Video: Cough In Adults - Treatment, Causes And Symptoms

Video: Cough In Adults - Treatment, Causes And Symptoms
Video: Causes of Chronic Cough in Adults 2023, March
Cough In Adults - Treatment, Causes And Symptoms
Cough In Adults - Treatment, Causes And Symptoms

Cough in adults


  • What is a cough?
  • Cough reasons
  • Cough as a symptom
  • Dry and wet cough - what's the difference?
  • Cough without fever and runny nose
  • Severe cough pain
  • Nocturnal cough in adults
  • Adult coughing fits
  • Dry cough treatment

    • Herbion
    • Sinekod
    • Fluifort
    • Stopusin
    • Codelac Fito
    • Bronchodilator
    • Bronchicum
    • Linkas
    • Libexin

What is a cough?

The cough is due to involuntary forced exhalation, which is caused by irritation on the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract. Anything can serve as a reason for coughing, from a speck of dust that accidentally flew into the throat to serious illnesses: flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc. Coughing up is also caused by small foreign bodies trapped in the throat. With the help of a cough, the child gets rid of them.

In recent years, the incidence of lung cancer and tuberculosis has increased. Hemoptysis syndrome, which often complicates the course of lung cancer and tuberculosis, also requires the prescription of drugs that soothe and suppress cough. Antitussive drugs are also necessary for patients with functional disorders in the respiratory organs, tracheal dyskinesia and reflux disease. Thus, the spectrum of diseases requiring effective antitussives is very wide.

Cough begins when there is irritation of the mucous membrane of the larynx, trachea and bronchi. That is why, in order to get rid of a cough (not from the cause of the cough, but only from the spasm itself), you just need to remove the irritation, or at least reduce it.

Video: chronic cough - what is its cause and how to overcome it?

Cough reasons


Cough is a reflex defense reaction of the body, manifested by jerky exhalation and ensuring the removal of a foreign body or phlegm from the respiratory tract. Cough can be a symptom of many diseases, therefore, its correct diagnosis is of great importance. Coughing up allows the bronchi to clear, so that a person does not suffocate. Therefore, it can be said that coughing performs a vital function in the body.

Cough can be divided into several types, depending on the causes and symptoms. Most often it is caused by two main reasons - foreign bodies and diseases. A sudden cough usually indicates that a foreign body has entered the respiratory tract. A sharp and persistent cough most often indicates a respiratory tract infection, and it usually lasts for at least two weeks. If a cough lasts more than two months, it is called chronic.

Chronic cough is often observed in bronchial asthma. In severe asthma, patients are worried about a prolonged cough, especially at night and after any physical exertion. A variety of irritants can also cause chronic cough, such as cigarette smoke or chemicals that you breathe regularly. A barking cough (especially in a small child) should be alarming, as it can be caused by swelling of the larynx, and the result can be choking.

A cough occurs with the following diseases:

  • Pharyngitis;
  • Asthma;
  • ARVI;
  • Allergy;
  • Heart failure;
  • Pleurisy;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Whooping cough;
  • Laryngitis

In general, a cough is not always a symptom of an illness. It can be caused by the following factors:

  1. Inflammation of the airways or areoles in diseases such as laryngitis, tracheitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, or lung abscess.
  2. Chemical irritation, i.e. inhalation of strong-smelling gases. An example is cigarette smoke.
  3. Mechanical irritation, that is, inhalation of dust, an increase in the tone of the bronchi and a violation of their patency.

  4. Thermal irritation, i.e. inhalation of too hot or too cold air.

If a foreign body enters the respiratory tract or smoke is inhaled, the cough is usually one time. Smokers or with bronchial asthma have a paroxysmal cough. Viral infections cause an acute cough, and in case of heart pathologies, chronic bronchitis and other serious diseases, cough is observed in a chronic form.

Smoking is an obvious cause of chronic cough, especially if the person has been smoking for many years. Excessive phlegm builds up in the lungs due to cigarette smoke and may go unnoticed. Therefore, smokers often wake up in the morning with a wet cough that stops after a few puffs are taken. If you definitely need a cigarette in the morning, this is a characteristic sign that there are already serious problems in the work of the respiratory system.

With emphysema or a disease such as chronic bronchitis, there is a persistent, excruciating cough. In this case, the lumen of the bronchi decreases, as a result of which shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing occurs. Sometimes a cough can be a sign of a very serious illness, such as cancer or a benign lung tumor.

Cough as a symptom

The nature of the cough helps to correctly diagnose the disease and prescribe treatment.

  • A barking cough often accompanies inflammation of the vocal cords.
  • Silent cough is observed when the vocal cords are injured or paralyzed.
  • Emphysema and obstructive bronchitis cause a dull, paroxysmal cough.
  • A dry and tearful cough often speaks of tumors of the respiratory tract: trachea, bronchi or larynx.
  • With lesions of the pleura, a dry and painful cough occurs.
  • A cough with sputum is a symptom of a violent inflammatory process in the bronchi and / or lungs. In this case, there is an increased production of sputum, which enters the respiratory tract. The nature of its department helps to diagnose diseases more accurately. If the sputum is viscous and scanty, then this may indicate bronchial asthma, bronchitis or tracheitis. Mucopurulent sputum indicates the appearance of acute focal pneumonia. When pleuropneumonia occurs, sputum of a "rusty" color appears, which is due to the presence of a large number of red blood cells.

  • If a breakthrough of a lung abscess is observed in the bronchi, then a lot of phlegm with a fetid odor is released with a cough.
  • An abundance of phlegm and chills can be combined with other symptoms, for example, fever, intense sweating, and a deterioration in general well-being. If the sputum is of concern, or if it contains unusual impurities, then an urgent need to see a doctor. For example, hemoptysis speaks of a lung infarction, cancer or tuberculosis. The appearance of small particles of food in the sputum indicates that the contents of the esophagus enter the respiratory tract.
  • The result of a breakthrough of a hepatic abscess may be a sudden appearance of sputum, similar to semolina.
  • With viral respiratory tract infections, coughing is accompanied by symptoms such as fever, dizziness, weakness, or vomiting. But with parainfluenza, the temperature may not be observed at first.
  • If a persistent cough is the only symptom, and no others are observed, then this may indicate oncology. A strong cough without phlegm appears with tuberculosis, which is diagnosed by the nature of the cough. In this case, timely medical attention is vital.
  • A lingering and dry cough, which may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, is a symptom of whooping cough caused by Bordetella pertussis, a small immobile aerobic gram-negative coccus. Pertussis usually only occurs in childhood. Each type of cough is characteristic of a certain disease, and only a doctor can correctly diagnose.
  • An acute cough is a cough that lasts no longer than a few weeks. Often an acute cough occurs when a foreign body enters the respiratory tract, which happens to young children who actively learn about the world around them. If the foreign object is small, then it can get deep into the respiratory tract, in this case, the child must be urgently taken to the doctor.

  • With infectious diseases, an acute dry cough gradually changes to a wet one, and then passes.
  • A lingering cough, which is often a symptom of sinusitis, inflammation of the adenoids or chronic rhinitis, should cause great concern. It occurs most often at night, and is associated with nasal congestion, snoring, or even choking.

Recurrent cough has its own characteristics:

  1. It is accompanied by shortness of breath, difficulty breathing.
  2. Often triggered by allergens: feathers, food, cat or dog hair.
  3. Occurs during a deep breath, physical activity.
  4. It is well eliminated by drugs of the bronchodilator group.

The psychogenic cough also has its own characteristics, which often occurs in children after severe illnesses. It is high, frequent, can occur against the background of stressful situations, and disappears during eating or sleeping.

Cough does not tolerate neglect, it often causes serious complications, so its correct diagnosis and timely treatment are very important. If the unexplained cough continues for more than a month, it could be a sign of a lump in the airway or heart failure. But not everything is so frightening: a prolonged cough is often the result of untreated bronchitis. Be that as it may, consultation and medical assistance are required. In no case should you self-medicate, as you will only aggravate the situation.

Dry and wet cough - what's the difference?

A dry cough is a typical sign of the onset of a cold (pharyngitis, bronchitis, ARVI, tracheitis), the presence of phlegm is not typical for it. Due to a cold, an acute inflammatory process develops in the throat, with an excess of mucus, and the patient wants to clear his throat.

You can cure a dry cough using modern antitussive drugs. They relax the pharyngeal mucosa and remove bronchial spasms. To get rid of a severe paroxysmal cough, special pharmaceuticals are used to block nerve urges. But it is important to remember that this is only symptomatic therapy. The doctor prescribes medications of this action if an indomitable reflex cough does not allow a person to live normally and sleep peacefully. (read also: cough drops)

A wet cough is a consequence of the accumulation of phlegm in the trachea, bronchi and lungs, it often develops after a dry cough. With this cough, the lungs are cleared of phlegm, which acts as an excellent medium for the maturation of bacteria. If a wet cough persists for a long time, the disease can become chronic.

For better coughing up, sputum should be liquefied with mucalytic agents. They make the phlegm less viscous and easier to remove from the airways. If you have a wet cough, you need to drink plenty of fluids (water, herbal tea, juice, compote).

A dry cough develops with inflammation of the mucous membrane, and a wet cough with an accumulation of sputum. Dry coughs are treated with sedatives, wet coughs with expectorants. A dry cough can turn into a wet one, because the inflammatory process, in the absence of timely treatment, gradually drops lower. And a wet cough almost never turns into a dry one.

Cough without fever and runny nose


A cough without fever and a runny nose is considered the most common pathological symptom characteristic of most acute respiratory infections. It can confirm the presence of an uncomplicated infection in the body, or act as a harbinger of a serious illness. Before treatment, you need to understand the causes of cough. And, of course, only a qualified doctor can give an accurate conclusion and prescribe the necessary drugs.

The human respiratory system is designed in such a way that when dust, infections, allergens invade the respiratory tract, a cough appears due to irritation of the receptors. Thanks to him, the trachea and bronchi of a sick person are cleared of various secretions (mucus, sputum, pus, blood, as well as foreign bodies - dust, pollen, food particles).

A long dry cough without fever and a runny nose can be a sign of many diseases (some types of ARVI, allergic reaction, post-infectious cough, stress, chronic diseases of ENT organs, heart failure, thyroid diseases, certain diseases of the stomach, intestines, tuberculosis, oncology of the respiratory system) …

Severe cough pain

The causes of pain when coughing are different: from SARS to lung cancer. The main thing is to diagnose the disease in a timely manner, and preferably in the early stages. Therefore, you need to be examined at the first sign of pain.

Pain in the spine and chest when coughing can appear due to the inflamed pleura located in the chest cavity. Dry pleurisy (inflammation of the pleura) most often occurs with pneumonia or pneumonia. Treatment is with pain relievers and antibiotics. With pleurisy and pneumonia, the chest is sometimes fixed with bandages, which makes it possible to relieve pain while lying on the affected side.

Pain in the side and chest during inhalation and exhalation during coughing may appear due to pathology in the ribs and thoracic region, pleural tumors, pericarditis (inflammation of the heart membrane). Pericarditis in the bulk of cases is a complication of an infectious disease of the respiratory tract.

Pain in the ribs, "shooting" sharp pain when coughing can be a consequence of inflammation of the nerve endings of the intercostal space. The root cause of intercostal neuralgia is severe pinching or heavy stress on the nerves due to osteochondrosis. In these cases, keeping the back calm and warm is a good treatment for the cough. The cause of a sharp chest pain with a deep breath and coughing can be a broken rib due to injury or a strong blow.

Osteochondrosis can cause severe chest and back pain that worsens with coughing. Causes of osteochondrosis: spinal injuries, long, severe stress on the spine, scoliosis. Back pain, chest pain, dry, "scratching" cough can be symptoms of tracheitis (inflammation of the trachea) caused by staphylococcal, pneumococcal bacteria. In the acute form, the disease is not dangerous, but it can develop into a chronic form. People who are nicotine addicted can get chronic tracheitis, with diseases of the nose and paranasal sinuses.

Lung cancer is accompanied by quite intense pain of various kinds: stabbing pain, which becomes stronger with active breathing and coughing, acute pain behind the sternum. The pain increases with the spread of metastases to the spine and ribs. The main signs of lung cancer are severe, exhausting cough, chest pain, noticeable shortness of breath, and hemoptysis.

Pneumothorax (accumulation of air in the pleura) is another condition with back and chest pain. This disease is traumatic and spontaneous. Increased pain can be observed with coughing or deep breathing. Chest pain in pneumonia, acute bronchitis, asthma can be unbearable. In any case, in case of pain during coughing, you should immediately seek medical help.

Nocturnal cough in adults

Night cough is considered a fairly common symptom of diseases of the internal organs. It has been confirmed that nocturnal cough in adults can be initiated not only by pulmonary diseases, but also by pathologies of the cardiovascular system, stomach and intestines.

There are a number of factors that cause nocturnal cough in adults. For example, during sleep, a person is in a horizontal position, while the lungs are not particularly active, mucus from the nasopharynx hardly comes out, the airways are not cleared properly, and this often causes a severe attack of coughing at night.

Also at night the air in the room is usually colder and drier, which irritates the mucous membrane and causes coughing. However, it is worth paying special attention to the "night" cough. It can be a symptom of serious diseases such as bronchial asthma or whooping cough (for more information: First signs and symptoms of asthma).

Continuous attacks, unpleasant tickling in the throat, absence or small amount of phlegm - this is a dry cough. It is stopped by drugs that suppress the nerve center of the brain, which is responsible for the corresponding reflex. But doctors do not recommend using such drugs without indications. Much more effective and useful in this case is the use of drugs to thin the sputum.

Coughing fits in an adult. What to do if you have a bad cough?

Coughing fits
Coughing fits

Cough is one of the unconditioned human reflexes. This is a necessary protective reaction of the respiratory system to numerous external stimuli. Irritants can be various microparticles, pollen, dust or bacteria, germs that cause an infectious cough. A cough is not a disease, but only a symptom of a disease.

Many bacterial and viral infections cause violent coughing fits. Therefore, it is necessary to treat the disease directly after establishing an accurate diagnosis.

How to stop a coughing fit. Continuous bouts of coughing can be relieved with various herbal infusions. A very good remedy for expectoration is a decoction of chamomile with mother and stepmother. It will remove the accumulated phlegm from the airways and relieve pulmonary edema. And the regular use of 50 ml of a decoction of common rosemary will help relieve attacks and soothe a cough in a few days.

A nocturnal cough can be stopped by getting out of bed and leaning forward slightly. Helps to relieve coughs and regular stretching. You need to stand up, raise your right hand up and stretch very well. Ordinary chamomile tea can be a salvation from indomitable coughing fits.

Dry cough treatment

Means aimed at getting rid of dry cough should be taken only when the patient's cough reflex is really pronounced and interferes with his normal life. To restore the quality of life, the doctor may prescribe medications that can relieve a person from a debilitating condition.

When the cough is not accompanied by sputum production, it is necessary to ensure that it becomes productive. Only after this can the patient be prescribed expectorant and mucolytic drugs. In addition, it is possible to prescribe drugs that have a complex effect. They are simultaneously capable of giving an expectorant and antitussive effect.


Herbion is a plantain syrup produced in the form of a syrup. It has antitussive, expectorant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory effects. The drug soothes and relieves dry cough. Its main active ingredients are mallow flowers and plantain lanceolate herb.

Indications for use


Side effects

If you need to achieve the following effects:

  • expectorant;
  • antibacterial;
  • antitussive;
  • anti-inflammatory.

As a result, the patient will feel relief from a dry cough, as it softens.

If you have fructose intolerance or individual sensitivity to plant-based preparations. People with diabetes need to take the drug under medical supervision, that is, with extreme caution.



Sinekod is an antitussive drug that has a direct effect on the cough center. It has expectorant properties, has a moderate anti-inflammatory, bronchodilating effect, improves spirometry indicators. It is indicated for acute dry cough of various origins. The first form of release is intended for use by children, and the second for the treatment of adults.

Indications for use


Side effects

It is necessary to take when coughing (dry and acute), of various etiology. Able to affect the cough center.

Other effects include:

  • removal of inflammation;
  • expectorant effect;
  • promotes relaxation of the smooth muscles of the bronchi and improves their patency;
  • contributes to the normalization of spirometry indicators.
  • period of bearing a child;
  • feeding period;
  • age up to 2 months - an absolute contraindication;
  • age up to 3 years - a contraindication for syrup (drops are possible);
  • children under 12 years old - a contraindication for the tablet form.

Loose stools, nausea, allergies, dizziness.



The active ingredient of the drug, the lysine salt of carbocysteine, affects many processes in the body: it regulates the viscosity and elasticity of sputum at the stage of its formation, makes cough productive, relieves cough symptoms and reduces the amount of sputum by the 4th day of therapy. The drug relieves inflammation and prevents phlegm from accumulating in the airways, thereby preventing the risk of complications. Fluifort is recommended for children from 1 year old (for the convenience of therapy for the smallest, a form of medicine in the form of sirop has been developed) Adults can use the drug both in syrup and in granules.

Indications for use


Side effects

Acute and chronic bronchopulmonary diseases, accompanied by the formation of viscous and difficult to separate sputum (tracheitis, bronchitis, tracheobronchitis, bronchial asthma, bronchiectasis) and mucus (inflammatory diseases of the middle ear and paranasal sinuses - rhinitis, adenoiditis, otitis media), otitis media, sinusitis or bronchography.

Hypersensitivity to any component of the drug. Peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum (in the acute stage). Pregnancy (I trimester) and the period of breastfeeding. Children up to age 1 year. Side effects

Adverse reactions are very rare: Dizziness, abdominal pain, nausea, loose stools.


Stopusin is a combined antitussive and secretolytic action. The composition includes Butamirate citrate, which has a local anesthetic, bronchodilator and antitussive effect, and Guaifenesin reduces the viscosity of sputum, improving its discharge. Effective for dry cough in children and adults.

Indications for use


Side effects

Due to Butamirate citrate, the drug is able to have the following effect:

  • locally anesthetize;
  • dilate the bronchi;
  • reduce the cough reflex.

Due to Guaifenesin, the drug contributes to:

  • dilution of sputum;
  • improving its discharge.

It is prescribed in childhood and adulthood for dry cough.

Pregnancy, namely - 1 trimester and age up to a year.

Sometimes - allergies, less often - headaches, vomiting, stool disorders and dizziness.

Codelac Fito

The cost of this drug reaches 140 rubles. Available in both syrup and elixir form. As part of the drug, the main active ingredients are extracts of licorice, thyme and thermopsis + codeine.

Indications for use


Side effects

Prescribed to improve the process of expectoration.

Up to two years of age, during pregnancy and lactation, with bronchial asthma and respiratory failure. In addition, you should not prescribe the drug to patients who are hypersensitive to herbal medicines.

Drowsiness, headaches, constipation, nausea, vomiting, allergies. If taken over a long period of time, it can become addictive to codeine.


Bronholitin is a combined antitussive, bronchodilatory and bronchoseptic drug. The composition includes Glaucina hydrobromide, which has a depressing effect on the cough center, a mild anti-inflammatory, analgesic effect. Basil oil has a slight sedative, antimicrobial, antispasmodic properties. Ephedrine stimulates breathing, dilates the bronchi, has a vasoconstrictor effect, thereby eliminating the swelling of the bronchial mucosa.

Indications for use


Side effects

  • Due to glaucine hydrobromide, a slight removal of inflammation and pain relief, as well as suppression of the cough center, is achieved.
  • Due to basil oil, antibacterial, soothing and antispasmodic effects are achieved.
  • Due to epidrine, the drug expands the bronchi, narrows blood vessels, and stimulates respiratory function. As a result, edema subsides from the bronchial mucosa.

Not prescribed for heart failure and up to 3 years, as well as for breastfeeding and pregnancy.

Increased sweating, tremors of the limbs, increased heart rate, problems with night rest, namely, insomnia, rash, blurred vision, difficulty urinating, vomiting and nausea.


Combined drug with anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator action. The syrup and tablets contain thyme herb extract, and the elixir also contains primrose root extract. Bronchicum is universal, it is an effective expectorant for dry and wet coughs. At the stage of the disease, when the cough is dry, Bronchicum helps to cope with severe attacks, converting a dry cough into a wet one. Then, already with a wet cough, it facilitates the expectoration of phlegm, facilitating its excretion from the lungs.

Indications for use


Side effects

The effect that can be achieved:

  • removal of inflammation;
  • sputum discharge;
  • bronchodilator effects.

The versatility of the drug lies in the fact that when the cough is wet, it improves the discharge and excretion of mucus, and when the cough is dry, it softens it, relieves attacks and makes it wet.

  • For lozenges - up to six years old;
  • For all forms - age up to six months, disorders in the liver and kidneys, pregnancy and lactation, individual intolerance.

Allergies, irritation of the gastric mucosa.


Linkas is a combined herbal preparation that reduces the intensity of cough, increases its productivity, has a mucolytic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory effect.

Indications for use


Side effects

  • decreased strength of the cough reflex;
  • increasing the productivity of cough;
  • expectorant effect;
  • removal of inflammation;
  • mucolytic effect.

Full restriction - up to six months of age, in the presence of hypersensitivity. Partial limitation - diabetes mellitus.


The preparation contains extracts of alpinia flowers, hyssop, violet, onosma, marshmallow, adhatoda leaves, licorice (root), long pepper (fruit).


Libeksin is a peripheral antitussive agent. It has a local anesthetic, bronchodilator effect, its antitussive effect is approximately comparable to that of codeine. Unlike codeine, Libexin does not cause dependence, does not affect the central nervous system. In chronic bronchitis, it has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Indications for use


Side effects

  • local anesthetic effect;
  • expansion of the bronchi;
  • antitussive action, almost similar to codeine, but without the formation of addiction;
  • removal of inflammation (with chronic bronchitis).

It is forbidden to prescribe in diseases that are accompanied by the release of abundant bronchial secretions. In childhood, they are prescribed with caution; they are not prescribed at all while carrying a child.

Slight sedative effect, dryness in the mouth, its temporary numbness, skin rash.

Any drug can only be prescribed by a doctor. It also determines the frequency and duration of its use.


Article author: Mochalov Pavel Alexandrovich | d. m. n. therapist

Education: Moscow Medical Institute. IM Sechenov, specialty - "General Medicine" in 1991, in 1993 "Occupational Diseases", in 1996 "Therapy".

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