DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
A cough is your body's way of responding to irritants in your throat and airways. An irritant stimulates nerves in your respiratory tract, sending the cough impulse to your brain, which signals the muscles of your abdomen and diaphragm to give a strong push of air to your lungs to try to expel the irritant.
Everyone coughs sometimes, but a cough that persists for several weeks or one that brings up discolored or bloody mucus may indicate an underlying condition that requires medical attention. A cough rarely requires emergency care.
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