• Cough is non-productive (dry cough) if there is minimal clear-white or no phlegm (sputum)
  • Cough is productive (wet cough) if there is yellow, green, or brown phlegm (sputum)

General Information

  • A cough is the sound made when the cough reflex suddenly expels air and secretions from the lungs.
  • Cough is one of the most common symptoms that patients experience. It is the fifth most common reason for visits to physicians.
  • The common cold is the single most common cause of acute cough (i.e., cough less than 3 weeks in duration).
  • Smokers may have a chronic cough, especially in the morning.

Why We Cough - A cough has two important functions:

  • It serves to clear the airways of infection, mucus, foreign bodies, and other irritants.
  • It protects against aspiration of oral and stomach contents.

Causes of Coughing

  • Most common causes: postnasal drip syndrome from a cold, allergic rhinitis, and sinusitis.
  • Other common causes: asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, gastroesophageal reflux, and smoking.
  • Less common causes: lung cancer, congestive heart failure, pulmonary embolism, TB, Whooping Cough, and ACE inhibitor drugs

If not, see these topics

  • You are coughing because of an ASTHMA ATTACK
  • You have a COMMON COLD
  • EARACHE is your main concern


Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors can cause a dry chronic cough. Generic and trade name listing:

  • Benazepril - Lotensin
  • Captopril - Capoten
  • Cilazapril - Inhibace
  • Enalapril, Enalaprilat - Vasotec
  • Fosinopril - Monopril
  • Lisinopril - Zestril
  • Moexipril - Univasc
  • Perindopril - Aceon, Coversyl
  • Quinapril - Accupril
  • Ramipril - Altace
  • Trandolapril - Mavik

Honey for Cough

  • Recent Research Study: A recent research study compared honey to either dextromethorphan (DM) or no treatment for the treatment of nocturnal coughing. The study group contained 105 children age 2 to 18 years. Honey consistently scored the best for reducing cough frequency and cough severity. It also scored best for improving sleep. Dextromethorphan (DM) did not score any better than "no treatment" (showing DM's lack of effect).
  • How Might Honey Work? One explanation for how honey works is that sweet substances naturally cause reflex salivation and increased airway secretions. These secretions may lubricate the airway and remove the trigger (or tickle) that causes a dry, nonproductive cough.
  • Adult Dosage: 2 teaspoons (10 ml) at bedtime.
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Treatments for Cough

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Symptoms and Screenings for Cough

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Causes and Preventions for Cough

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Education and Resources for Cough

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Support groups for Cough

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Learn More about Cough

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