Cough: Symptoms, Types, Treatment, and Prevention

If you’ve experienced coughing from time to time, and who hasn’t, you’ll probably agree that they’re always uncomfortable and often interfere with daily life. Coughing can be a very uncomfortable symptom to deal with when you have a cold or the flu. Medications like AXIM DayTime and AXIM NightTime  can help. But before you can treat it, you need to understand what cough is exactly and how wet cough and dry cough differ.

What is cough?

Cough is a natural protective reflex intended to keep the airways clear.

The urge to cough is a reflex built into your central nervous system, similar to the reflexes of sneezing, swallowing, or yawning. The control centers for the cough reflex are located in the same part of your brain where many survival-related functions are found, demonstrating how important it is for your health and safety to have the ability to cough.

Coughing can be triggered by both non-infectious causes like smoke, dust, and pet dander, as well as infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. Coughing can also expel food that went down the wrong way or when a foreign object enters the lungs. It can be voluntary or involuntary as a reflex.

Cough can also develop as a result of a viral infection. This type of cough can be voluntary or involuntary, to help the lungs clear mucus that can build up from the immune response fighting the infection.

Chronic cough can be a sign of more serious health conditions. If you think you may have chronic cough, talk to your healthcare provider.

Types and symptoms of cough

Coughing occurs for different reasons, and each one can sound or feel different. There are two main types of cough from a cold or flu: wet cough and dry cough.

A cough that expels mucus (also known as phlegm) from the respiratory tract is called a productive, wet, or chesty cough because it serves a purpose. A cough that doesn’t produce mucus and serves no useful purpose is called a non-productive or dry cough. It can also disrupt the much-needed sleep, leaving you exhausted.


What is causing your cough?

Wet cough: A wet cough occurs when your respiratory system produces mucus to help clear an irritating pathogen or cold or flu from your airways and lungs.
Chesty cough: Some may refer to a wet cough as a chesty cough. Although similar, they are technically not the same. A chesty cough can be productive or non-productive, or alternate: some coughs will expel mucus, followed by a dry cough due to inflamed and irritated airways that don’t expel mucus. Chesty cough is triggered by excess mucus in the lungs and lower airways, and you may have difficulty expectorating (a fancy word for coughing up) thick mucus to clear the airway passage.
Dry cough: Dry cough generally occurs when the airways are inflamed or irritated. This makes them sensitive, so the threshold for triggering a cough is lowered. You may experience dry cough in the early days of a respiratory infection as your body tries to clear the pathogen from your airways.

Regardless of the trigger of the cough (irritated airways and/or excess mucus), it can become bothersome and affect you day and night. For example, a wet cough may be more noticeable at night when you lie down, as changing position can cause more mucus to move toward the back of the throat. A dry cough can also disrupt sleep, keeping you and possibly your entire family awake and tired the next day.

How to treat cough

The best way to treat a cough is to first identify what type of cough you have so that you can get the appropriate relief for the symptoms. Medications like AXIM DayTime and AXIM NightTime  can help. Many over-the-counter cough, cold, and flu medications treat multiple symptoms. Identify what symptoms you have in addition to the cough, if any, so you can choose the best solution for you.