While an occasional cough is normal, a cough that persists may be a sign of a medical problem.

A cough is considered "acute" if it lasts less than three weeks. It is considered "chronic" if it lasts longer than eight weeks (four weeks in children).

Some causes of coughs include:

Common causes — acute

  1. Common cold
  2. Influenza (flu)
  3. Inhaling an irritant (such as smoke, dust, chemicals or a foreign body)
  4. Pneumonia
  5. Whooping cough

Common causes — chronic

  1. Allergies
  2. Asthma (most common in children)
  3. Bronchitis
  4. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  5. Postnasal drip

Others

  1. Acute sinusitis (sinus infection)
  2. Bronchiectasis (a chronic lung condition in which abnormal widening of bronchial tubes inhibits mucus clearing)
  3. Bronchiolitis (especially in young children)
  4. Choking: First aid (especially in children)
  5. Chronic sinusitis
  6. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) exacerbation — worsening of symptoms
  7. Croup (especially in young children)
  8. Cystic fibrosis
  9. Emphysema
  10. Heart failure
  11. Laryngitis
  12. Lung cancer
  13. Medications called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  14. Neuromuscular diseases that weaken the coordination of upper airway and swallowing muscles
  15. Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in an artery in the lung)
  16. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — especially in young children
  17. Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body)
  18. Tuberculosis

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

June 21, 2019

See also

  1. Acute bronchitis: Is it contagious?
  2. Acute sinusitis
  3. Acute sinusitis: Do over-the-counter treatments help?
  4. Adjuvant therapy for cancer
  5. Albuterol side effects
  6. Allergies
  7. Allergy medications: Know your options
  8. Allergy-proof your home
  9. Alternative cancer treatments: 10 options to consider
  10. Aortic aneurysm
  11. Asbestosis
  12. Ascariasis
  13. Asthma attack
  14. Asthma: Colds and flu
  15. Atelectasis
  16. Atypical cells: Are they cancer?
  17. Avoid rebound nasal congestion
  18. Barrel chest: What causes it?
  19. Barrett's esophagus
  20. Barrett's Study Results
  21. Bile reflux
  22. Biopsy procedures
  23. Bird flu (avian influenza)
  24. Blood tests for heart disease
  25. Mitral valve clip to treat mitral regurgitation: Bob's story
  26. Mitral valve overview
  27. Video: Aortic Surgery: What Patients Need to Know
  28. Fact or Fiction? Debunking Exercise & Nutrition Myths for Preventing Heart Disease and Risk Factors
  29. Healthy Heart Numbers
  30. Heart disease in women
  31. Heart Failure
  32. Sports Cardiology Program
  33. Treating Pericarditis
  34. Video: Valve-Sparing Aortic Root Replacement
  35. Bronchitis
  36. Can chicken soup cure a cold?
  37. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
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  40. Myths about cancer causes
  41. Infographic: Cancer Clinical Trials Offer Many Benefits
  42. Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping
  43. Cancer diagnosis? Advice for dealing with what comes next
  44. Cancer-related fatigue
  45. Cancer pain: Relief is possible
  46. Cancer risk: What the numbers mean
  47. Cancer surgery
  48. Cancer survival rate
  49. Cancer survivors: Care for your body after treatment
  50. Cancer survivors: Late effects of cancer treatment
  51. Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment
  52. Cancer survivors: Reconnecting with loved ones after treatment
  53. Cancer treatment decisions: 5 steps to help you decide
  54. Cancer treatment for men: Possible sexual side effects
  55. Cancer treatment for women: Possible sexual side effects
  56. Cancer treatment myths
  57. Cancer Vaccine Research
  58. Cardiac asthma: What causes it?
  59. Infographic: Cardiac sarcoidosis: A heart under attack
  60. Castleman disease
  61. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  62. Chemotherapy side effects: A cause of heart disease?
  63. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  64. COPD
  65. Chronic sinusitis
  66. Churg-Strauss syndrome
  67. Cold and flu viruses: How long can they live outside the body?
  68. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  69. Cold remedies
  70. Cold symptoms: Does drinking milk increase phlegm?
  71. Common cold
  72. Common cold in babies
  73. Control your portions, control your weight
  74. Coronavirus
  75. Croup
  76. Cryptogenic organizing pneumonia
  77. Curcumin: Can it slow cancer growth?
  78. Daily aspirin therapy
  79. Cancer-related diarrhea
  80. Dilated cardiomyopathy
  81. Does honey really help with allergies?
  82. Does zinc work for colds?
  83. Dust mite allergy
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  86. Eating during cancer treatment: Tips to make food tastier
  87. Ebola transmission: Can Ebola spread through the air?
  88. Ebola virus and Marburg virus
  89. Echinacea: Is it effective for the common cold?
  90. Egg allergy
  91. Ehrlichiosis
  92. Heart transplant to treat dilated cardiomyopathy: Elmo's story
  93. Enlarged heart
  94. Esophageal cancer
  95. Infographic: Esophageal Cancer
  96. Esophagitis
  97. External Drive: Charles' Artificial Heart
  98. Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
  99. Flu masks
  100. Flu shots
  101. Flu shots and heart disease
  102. Flu: When to see a doctor?
  103. Flu vaccine: Safe for people with egg allergy?
  104. Fluzone High-Dose: What distinguishes it from other flu vaccines?
  105. Football Spinal Cord Injury - The Chris Norton Story
  106. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  107. GERD: Can certain medications make it worse?
  108. Goiter
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  110. Grass-fed beef
  111. Group B strep disease
  112. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
  113. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  114. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  115. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  116. Healthy eating: One step at a time
  117. Healthy Heart for Life!
  118. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  119. Heart disease
  120. Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors
  121. Heart failure
  122. Heart failure and sex: Is it safe?
  123. Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease
  124. Heart murmurs
  125. Heartburn medicines and B-12 deficiency
  126. High-dose vitamin C: Can it kill cancer cells?
  127. Histoplasmosis
  128. HIV/AIDS
  129. Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease)
  130. Hodgkin's vs. non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: What's the difference?
  131. Holiday Heart
  132. Honey: An effective cough remedy?
  133. How well do you wash your hands?
  134. Humidifier care 101
  135. Humidifiers
  136. Influenza (flu)
  137. Interstitial lung disease
  138. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  139. Laryngitis
  140. What causes laryngospasm?
  141. Legionnaires' disease
  142. Low blood counts
  143. Lung cancer
  144. Infographic: Lung Cancer
  145. Lung nodules: Can they be cancerous?
  146. Mayo Clinic Minute: The facts about three flu vaccine myths
  147. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why you need your flu shot now
  148. Measles
  149. Measles vaccine: Can I get the measles if I've already been vaccinated?
  150. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  151. Mesothelioma
  152. Milk allergy
  153. Mitral valve regurgitation
  154. Mitral valve stenosis
  155. Monoclonal antibody drugs
  156. Mort Crim and Cancer
  157. Mouth sores caused by cancer treatment: How to cope
  158. Nasal Cleaning
  159. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  160. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  161. Neti pot solution: Can I make my own?
  162. No appetite? How to get nutrition during cancer treatment
  163. Nonallergic rhinitis
  164. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  165. Novel coronavirus: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  166. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  167. He's the bravest kid I've ever seen
  168. Oil of oregano: Can it treat sinusitis?
  169. Omega-3 in fish
  170. Omega-6 fatty acids
  171. Opera Star's Surgery
  172. Pectus excavatum
  173. Pectus Excavatum
  174. Pericardial effusion
  175. Pericarditis
  176. Pet allergy
  177. Pet allergy: Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?
  178. Photodynamic therapy: An effective treatment for lung cancer?
  179. Pleurisy
  180. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  181. Pneumonia
  182. Pneumonitis
  183. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  184. PrEP to prevent HIV
  185. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  186. Pulmonary edema
  187. Pulmonary embolism
  188. Pulmonary fibrosis
  189. Put fish on the menu
  190. Q fever
  191. Recurrent breast cancer
  192. Red wine, antioxidants and resveratrol
  193. Researchers Develop New Stents for Complex Aortic Aneurysms
  194. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  195. Robotic heart surgery treats mitral regurgitation: Ed's story
  196. Roseola
  197. Sarcoidosis
  198. Self-care for the flu
  199. Self-Image During Cancer
  200. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  201. Sinus headaches
  202. Sinus infection and toothache: Any connection?
  203. Sjogren's syndrome
  204. Sjogren's syndrome: Can it cause recurrent UTIs?
  205. Radiation simulation
  206. Small cell, large cell cancer: What this means
  207. Sodium: Smarten up
  208. Spinal cord injury
  209. Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  210. Heart disease prevention
  211. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  212. Super Survivor Conquers Cancer
  213. Swine flu (H1N1 flu)
  214. Thalidomide: Research advances in cancer and other conditions
  215. Infographic: The blueprints to your heart
  216. Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  217. Throat cancer
  218. Tuberculosis
  219. Tuberous sclerosis
  220. Tularemia
  221. Tumor vs. cyst: What's the difference?
  222. Valley fever
  223. Vascular rings
  224. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  225. Asthma attack video
  226. Cryotherapy
  227. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  228. How cancer spreads
  229. Mitral valve regurgitation
  230. PICC line placement
  231. Radiofrequency ablation
  232. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  233. Walking pneumonia
  234. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  235. Heart failure action plan
  236. What is MERS-CoV?
  237. What's the difference between H1N1 flu and influenza A?
  238. When cancer returns: How to cope with cancer recurrence
  239. Whipple's disease
  240. Whooping cough
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  242. Infographic: Women and Heart Disease
  243. Your secret weapon during cancer treatment? Exercise!
  244. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?