Coughing is how the body removes mucus, dust and other foreign particles from the lungs and airways. It’s also how the body reacts to irritation of the airway. Coughing is also a symptom, not a disease. Whether it is from a common cold, allergies or something more serious, its characteristics and related symptoms help determine its cause.

Types of Coughs

There are two types of coughs, productive and nonproductive, that are each defined by having phlegm or being dry. Most people will experience both in their lifetime, but, if either is particularly bad, painful or constant, reach out to an urgent care center to get help. 

Productive Coughs

Productive coughs produce phlegm, which comes from the sinuses or the lungs. Productive cough can be caused by a number of illnesses or conditions, such as bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, chronic lung disease, acid reflux disease, nasal discharge and smoking. These coughs shouldn’t be suppressed so the mucus gets cleared from the lungs and can be accompanied by a stuffy nose, runny nose and more.

Nonproductive Cough

A nonproductive cough is dry. An unproductive cough can develop at the end of a cold or after exposure to smoke or dust. Dry coughs can be caused by viral illnesses, irritation of the airway, allergies, certain medications and asthma. Non productive cough symptoms include a dry, hacking cough. 

Why Am I Coughing?

  • Upper respiratory tract infections: The most common cause of coughing related to illness are infections of the nose and throat. This is commonly associated with sore throats, fevers and runny noses. Infections of the nose and throat are the most common cause of coughing related to illness.  Almost always caused by viruses, they are usually associated with fevers, sore throat and runny nose. To help avoid infections, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Hay fever (or allergic rhinitis): Usually associated with sneezing, a runny nose and a dry cough, hay fever often mimics the symptoms of a common cold. A common allergic condition that mimics the symptoms of a common cold. 
  • Inhalation of irritants: Exposure to fumes and vapors can cause a cough through inflammation of the throat and airway. 
  • Lower respiratory tract infections: These are more serious viral and bacterial infections that usually cause a deep, lingering cough and fever. They can affect the airways (bronchitis) or go further into the lungs (pneumonia).
  • Pulmonary embolism: If you suspect a pulmonary embolism, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room. A blood clot travels, usually from the legs, to the lungs, causing sudden shortness of breath and a dry cough that could lead to death. 
  • Lung collapse (or pneumothorax): A lung collapse is deflation of the lung and can be spontaneous or because of chest trauma. Signs of a collapsed lung include sudden chest pain, dry cough and shortness of breath.
  • Heart failure: A build-up of fluid in the lung that causes coughing and shortness of breath could be a symptom of a weak or diseased heart. 
  • Postnasal drip: Starting as a dry cough, this usually stems from chronis dripping of mucus into the back of the throat. Coughing typically occurs after a recent infection or constantly being near an allergy trigger.
  • Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD): When stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, you might get acid-reflux or GERD which can cause coughing. 

If any cough is painful and persistent, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. 

Urgent Care for Coughs

It’s crucial to accurately diagnose your cough and learn about the best way to treat it. If medical attention is needed for chronic coughing, an urgent care center can be the solution. 

Let Rosamond Urgent Care help relieve your symptoms, diagnose the problem and can help you feel better, sooner with cough treatment. Located in Rosamond, California, Rosamond Urgent Care is open seven days a week with convenient daytime and evening hours. Call us today at 661-256-6365 or request a reservation online.