This post is all about hacking ...er, I mean coughing! This post goes along with the cough treatment post.
- When you are sick, you cough for two good reasons: to get rid of pathogens (viruses or bacteria, either dead or alive) and to remove excess mucus that has built-up in the respiratory tree in your lungs. Therefore coughing is a protective function and should be productive, especially with an infection.
- Coughing is a reflex and is thus normally beyond conscious control. If you've ever had a night 'cough attack' you'll know what I mean.
- There are cough centers in your brainstem triggering coughs. This means that cough medications must cross the blood brain barrier and enter the brain in order to stop the cough reflex.
- When epithelial cells lining the respiratory tree, trachea, or esophagus are sloughed-off, the cough reflex is triggered. This is a sign that dead cells are being replaced by new cells during the healing after an infection.
- Acid reflux can cause chronic coughing as the acid triggers nerve reflexes within the lower esophagus.
- A chronic cough that is not associated with an infection may be a sign of recurring damage to the esophagus. For example, smokers cough often as the chemicals inhaled by smoking sloughs off or irritates epithelial cells, triggering the cough reflex.
- If a chronic cough develops after age 50, it may be a sign of congested heart failure in which some blood backs-up into the lungs.
- With any chronic cough, please consult a medical professional to be fully assessed as there are many reasons why a cough may persist.