Cough R05

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 19.11.2023

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Coughing is a symptom and usually not an independent disease!

Coughing is the involuntary, explosive expulsion of air through the previously opened glottis due to a coughing stimulus via the cough reflex, whereby the expelled column of air reaches a high speed. The functional benefit of coughing is to cleanse the airways of substances that can irritate, constrict or even completely obstruct them.

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Classification by:

  • Productive cough (cough accompanied by expectoration of mucus).
  • Non-productive cough (also irritable cough; dry cough without expectoration of mucus)
  • Hemoptysis (expectoration of blood).

A further classification distinguishes according to the duration of the cough:

  • acute cough (different definitions: <8 weeks)
  • chronic cough (>8 weeks)

Acute cough (< 8 weeks duration) can be triggered by inflammation of the respiratory tract (sinusitis, laryngotracheitis, tracheobronchitis). It may occur in the course of bronchial asthma, with aspiration of foreign material, by inhalation of irritants. Deeper lung diseases can also cause acute cough, such as pneumonias, diseases of the pleura, pulmonary embolism. Acute heart disease is also a possible cause of acute cough.

Chronic cough (> 8 weeks) is usually caused by smoking or continuous inhalation of other pollutants, COPD, malignancies of the lung, bronchial asthma, VCD, infections, or chronic heart disease.

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The symptom coughing is one of the most common symptoms leading to a medical consultation.

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Coughing is triggered by irritation of mechanoreceptors of the larynx, trachea and the major bronchial passages, and by irritation of irritant receptors located from the trachea to the bronchioles.

Clinical features
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The causes are diseases of the respiratory organs, the heart, the stomach, the intake of various medications (e.g. ACE inhibitors) where coughing occurs as an ADR, or - less frequently - psychological disorders. A common cold is the most common cause of an acute cough.

Phytotherapy internal
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for catarrhal infection, as expectorant see e.g. Pimpinellae radix, Rhizoma Dioscoreae villosae

see under productive cough and dry cough

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Productive cough ;


Please ask your physician for a reliable diagnosis. This website is only meant as a reference.


Last updated on: 19.11.2023