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

See also

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  3. Acute sinusitis: Do over-the-counter treatments help?
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  10. Aortic aneurysm
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  14. Asthma: Colds and flu
  15. Atelectasis
  16. Atypical cells: Are they cancer?
  17. Avoid rebound nasal congestion
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  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
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  31. Heart Failure
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  37. Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets?
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  43. Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping
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  45. Cancer-related fatigue
  46. Cancer pain: Relief is possible
  47. Cancer risk: What the numbers mean
  48. Cancer surgery
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  50. Cancer survivors: Care for your body after treatment
  51. Cancer survivors: Late effects of cancer treatment
  52. Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment
  53. Cancer survivors: Reconnecting with loved ones after treatment
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  64. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  65. COPD
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  67. Churg-Strauss syndrome
  68. Cold and flu viruses: How long can they live outside the body?
  69. Cold or allergy: Which is it?
  70. Cold remedies
  71. Cold symptoms: Does drinking milk increase phlegm?
  72. Common cold
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  84. COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine
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  116. Flu: When to see a doctor?
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  126. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
  127. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  128. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
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  130. Healthy eating: One step at a time
  131. Healthy Heart for Life!
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  146. Honey: An effective cough remedy?
  147. How do COVID-19 antibody tests differ from diagnostic tests?
  148. How to talk to your kids about COVID-19
  149. How well do you wash your hands?
  150. Humidifier care 101
  151. Humidifiers
  152. Influenza (flu)
  153. Interstitial lung disease
  154. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  155. Laryngitis
  156. What causes laryngospasm?
  157. Legionnaires' disease
  158. Low blood counts
  159. Lung cancer
  160. Infographic: Lung Cancer
  161. Lung nodules: Can they be cancerous?
  162. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  163. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  164. Mayo Clinic Minute: The facts about three flu vaccine myths
  165. Mayo Clinic Minute: Why you need your flu shot now
  166. Measles
  167. Measles vaccine: Can I get the measles if I've already been vaccinated?
  168. Menus for heart-healthy eating
  169. Mesothelioma
  170. Milk allergy
  171. Mitral valve regurgitation
  172. Mitral valve stenosis
  173. Monoclonal antibody drugs
  174. Mort Crim and Cancer
  175. Mouth sores caused by cancer treatment: How to cope
  176. Nasal Cleaning
  177. Nasal spray addiction: Is it real?
  178. Neti pot: Can it clear your nose?
  179. Neti pot solution: Can I make my own?
  180. No appetite? How to get nutrition during cancer treatment
  181. Nonallergic rhinitis
  182. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  183. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  184. He's the bravest kid I've ever seen
  185. COVID-19 (coronavirus) drugs: Are there any that work?
  186. Oil of oregano: Can it treat sinusitis?
  187. Omega-3 in fish
  188. Omega-6 fatty acids
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  190. Pectus excavatum
  191. Pectus Excavatum
  192. Pericardial effusion
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  194. Pet allergy
  195. Pet allergy: Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?
  196. Photodynamic therapy: An effective treatment for lung cancer?
  197. Pleurisy
  198. Plugged ears: What is the remedy?
  199. Pneumonia
  200. Pneumonitis
  201. Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
  202. PrEP to prevent HIV
  203. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  204. Pulmonary edema
  205. Pulmonary embolism
  206. Pulmonary fibrosis
  207. Put fish on the menu
  208. Q fever
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  211. Researchers Develop New Stents for Complex Aortic Aneurysms
  212. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  213. Robotic heart surgery treats mitral regurgitation: Ed's story
  214. Roseola
  215. Sarcoidosis
  216. Self-care for the flu
  217. Self-Image During Cancer
  218. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  219. Sex and COVID-19
  220. Sinus headaches
  221. Sinus infection and toothache: Any connection?
  222. Sjogren's syndrome
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  224. Radiation simulation
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  226. Sodium: Smarten up
  227. Spinal cord injury
  228. Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  229. Heart disease prevention
  230. Stuffy nose? Try saline spray
  231. Super Survivor Conquers Cancer
  232. Swine flu (H1N1 flu)
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  235. Infographic: The blueprints to your heart
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  241. Tularemia
  242. Tumor vs. cyst: What's the difference?
  243. Valley fever
  244. Vascular rings
  245. Vicks VapoRub: An effective nasal decongestant?
  246. Asthma attack video
  247. Cryotherapy
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  249. How cancer spreads
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  251. PICC line placement
  252. Radiofrequency ablation
  253. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  254. Walking pneumonia
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