Cough is the most common illness of children. Although a cough can sound awful, it usually is not a sign of a more serious condition. In fact, coughing is a common reflex reaction that keeps the airways clear of mucus and irritants. 

The different types of coughs may be related to how they last: 

  • Acute cough – this type of cough usually lasts for less than three weeks  
  • Subacute cough – this type of cough usually lasts between three to eight weeks,  
  • Chronic cough – this is the persistent kind of cough that lasts more than eight weeks 
  • Refractory cough – this is a chronic cough that hasn’t responded to any type of treatment 

The type of cough related to mucus: 

  • Productive cough – or wet cough, is the kind of cough that brings up mucus or phlegm 
  • Non-productive cough – or dry cough, is the type that doesn’t bring up mucus or phlegm 

A cough can be caused by several different conditions. 

Common causes for acute cough can include: 

  • Inhaling an irritant, such as smoke, dust, chemical, etc 
  • Common cold 
  • Influenza 
  • Pneumonia 
  • Whooping cough 

Common causes for chronic cough can include: 

  • Allergies 
  • Bronchitis 
  • Asthma 
  • Postnasal drip 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease 

Other causes can include: 

  • Acute sinusitis 
  • Bronchiectasis 
  • Bronchiolitis 
  • Chronic sinusitis 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
  • COVID-19 
  • Cystic fibrosis 
  • Laryngitis 
  • Lung cancer 
  • Pulmonary embolism 
  • Sarcoidosis 
  • Tuberculosis 

Call your primary care physician if your cough doesn’t go away after a few weeks or if it involves any of these symptoms: 

  • Has fever 
  • Wheezing 
  • Has fever 
  • Experiencing shortness of breath 
  • Experiencing fainting 


Emergency care is needed if you are: 

  • Choking or vomiting 
  • Having difficulty breathing or swallowing 
  • Coughing up blood 
  • Has chest pain 


Coughs can be treated in different ways, depending on the case. At home remedies can be done by keeping hydrated, using cough drops to soothe the throat, gargling with salt water, avoiding irritants like smoke and dust. Or thru medical care, like doctors prescribing antibiotics, or they could also be prescribed with expectorant cough syrup or cough suppressants.  


Although having a cough doesn’t necessarily mean you have a serious illness. Calling and consulting with your primary health care provider will help you manage your symptoms and prevent it from progressing. Your primary care provider will also be the one to refer you to a specialist if the need arises.