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


  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