CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
An occasional cough is normal. But a cough that persists may signal an underlying problem. A cough is considered "acute" if it lasts less than three weeks; it's "chronic" if it lasts longer than eight weeks (four weeks in children).
Some causes of coughs include:
Common causes — acute
Common causes — chronic
- Acute sinusitis
- Choking: First aid
- Chronic sinusitis
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hay fever
- Heart failure
- Lung cancer
- Medications called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Neuromuscular diseases such as parkinsonism, which weaken the coordination of upper airway and swallowing muscles
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Cough. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/cough/cough_all.html. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=$eid&isbn=978-1-4557-0295-4&uniqId=398813857-1936. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Silvestri RC, et al. Evaluation of subacute and chronic cough in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Benich JJ, et al. Evaluation of the patient with chronic cough. American Family Physician. 2011;84:887.
- Schmitt BD. Pediatric Telephone Protocols. 14th ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2013:66.