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 COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets?
  38. Can vitamins help prevent a heart attack?
  39. Cancer
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  41. Myths about cancer causes
  42. Infographic: Cancer Clinical Trials Offer Many Benefits
  43. Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping
  44. Cancer diagnosis? Advice for dealing with what comes next
  45. Cancer-related fatigue
  46. Cancer pain: Relief is possible
  47. Cancer risk: What the numbers mean
  48. Cancer surgery
  49. Cancer survival rate
  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
  54. Cancer treatment decisions: 5 steps to help you decide
  55. Cancer treatment for men: Possible sexual side effects
  56. Cancer treatment for women: Possible sexual side effects
  57. Cancer treatment myths
  58. Cancer Vaccine Research
  59. Cardiac asthma: What causes it?
  60. Infographic: Cardiac sarcoidosis: A heart under attack
  61. Castleman disease
  62. Chelation therapy for heart disease: Does it work?
  63. Chemotherapy side effects: A cause of heart disease?
  64. Chicken soup: Can it treat a cold?
  65. COPD
  66. Chronic sinusitis
  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
  73. Common cold in babies
  74. Control your portions, control your weight
  75. Coronavirus safety tips for going out
  76. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  77. Coronavirus disease: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  78. Coronavirus grief
  79. COVID-19 and pets
  80. COVID-19 and your mental health
  81. COVID-19 (coronavirus) in babies and children
  82. COVID-19 (coronavirus): Quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing
  83. COVID-19 (coronavirus) stigma: What it is and how to reduce it
  84. COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine
  85. COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?
  86. Coping with unemployment caused by COVID-19
  87. COVID-19: Who's at higher risk?
  88. Croup
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  90. Curcumin: Can it slow cancer growth?
  91. Daily aspirin therapy
  92. Debunking coronavirus myths
  93. Cancer-related diarrhea
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  96. Does zinc work for colds?
  97. Dust mite allergy
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  102. Ebola virus and Marburg virus
  103. Echinacea: Is it effective for the common cold?
  104. Egg allergy
  105. Ehrlichiosis
  106. Heart transplant to treat dilated cardiomyopathy: Elmo's story
  107. Enlarged heart
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  109. Infographic: Esophageal Cancer
  110. Esophagitis
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  112. Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
  113. Flu masks
  114. Flu shots
  115. Flu shots and heart disease
  116. Flu: When to see a doctor?
  117. Flu vaccine: Safe for people with egg allergy?
  118. Fluzone High-Dose: What distinguishes it from other flu vaccines?
  119. Football Spinal Cord Injury - The Chris Norton Story
  120. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  121. GERD: Can certain medications make it worse?
  122. Goiter
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  124. Grass-fed beef
  125. Group B strep disease
  126. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
  127. Have a cold? Common sense rules
  128. Have a cold? Fight back with humidity
  129. Have a cold? Fight it with fluids
  130. Healthy eating: One step at a time
  131. Healthy Heart for Life!
  132. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  133. Heart disease
  134. Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors
  135. Heart failure
  136. Heart failure and sex: Is it safe?
  137. Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease
  138. Heart murmurs
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  140. High-dose vitamin C: Can it kill cancer cells?
  141. Histoplasmosis
  142. HIV/AIDS
  143. Hodgkin's lymphoma (Hodgkin's disease)
  144. Hodgkin's vs. non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: What's the difference?
  145. Holiday Heart
  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
  189. Opera Star's Surgery
  190. Pectus excavatum
  191. Pectus Excavatum
  192. Pericardial effusion
  193. Pericarditis
  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
  209. Recurrent breast cancer
  210. Red wine, antioxidants and resveratrol
  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
  223. Sjogren's syndrome: Can it cause recurrent UTIs?
  224. Radiation simulation
  225. Small cell, large cell cancer: What this means
  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)
  233. Telemedicine online doctor visits
  234. Thalidomide: Research advances in cancer and other conditions
  235. Infographic: The blueprints to your heart
  236. Thoracic aortic aneurysm
  237. Throat cancer
  238. Treating COVID-19 at home
  239. Tuberculosis
  240. Tuberous sclerosis
  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
  248. Video: Heart and circulatory system
  249. How cancer spreads
  250. Mitral valve regurgitation
  251. PICC line placement
  252. Radiofrequency ablation
  253. Vitamin C: Can it prevent colds?
  254. Walking pneumonia
  255. Warm-mist versus cool-mist humidifier: Which is better for a cold?
  256. Fight coronavirus transmission at home
  257. Heart failure action plan
  258. What is MERS-CoV?
  259. What's the difference between H1N1 flu and influenza A?
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  261. Whipple's disease
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  266. Do zinc supplements shorten colds?