Why do we cough and what does it mean?

There are many types of coughs. Some of the cough types describe how long they last, while other types describe how they feel or sound, and other types are actual conditions.1

Dry Cough

A dry cough (also known as a non-productive cough) doesn't produce mucus. A tickling sensation in the throat can make you have a dry cough.2

Because there isn't mucus blocking the lungs or airways, nothing comes out when you cough. This lack of mucus (phlegm) makes it an unproductive cough.2

A persistent cough tends to get worse at night (night cough).3

When you lie down at night, you lose the gravitational advantage that you have while standing during the day. If you have acid reflux, the acid comes back up your esophagus, essentially burning and irritating your throat and causing you to cough.4

Wet Cough

A productive cough or a wet cough is a cough that brings up mucus or phlegm.1

If you have a wet cough, you may feel like there's something stuck or dripping at the back of your throat or in your chest. Some of your coughs will bring mucus into your mouth.5

Wet Vs. Dry Cough — What’s the difference?

A dry cough (or nonproductive cough) is a cough that does not bring up any mucus or other secretions, Whereas a wet cough (or productive cough) is a cough that produces mucus or phlegm.1

Children and their cough

Cough is common during Childhood. Most often it is caused by acute respiratory infections, which can make children cough 5-8 times a year for 7-9 days each time.6

Adults and their cough

While cough in adults can be brought on for various reasons and most often will go away within 2 to 4 weeks.7

Know more about Cough


1. Cleveland Clinic. Cough. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17755-cough . Last accessed:24/2/2022.

2. Cleveland Clinic. Dry Cough and Chest Tightness. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21888-dry-cough-and-chest-tightness . Last accessed:24/2/2022.

3. Everyday Health. Why Your Cough Symptoms Get Worse at Night. Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/cold-and-flu-relief/nighttime-cough/ .Last accessed:24/2/2022.

4. The Ohio State University. What causes that terrible nighttime cough?. Available at: https://health.osu.edu/health/general-health/nighttime-cough .Last accessed:24/2/2022.

5. Healthline Website. What Does My Type of Cough Mean?. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/types-of-coughs .Last accessed:24/2/2022.

6. Jurca M, Ramette A, Dogaru CM, Goutaki M, Spycher BD, Latzin P, Gaillard EA, Kuehni CE. Prevalence of cough throughout childhood: a cohort study. PloS one. 2017 May 24;12(5):e0177485.

7. Health Navigator organization. Cough in adults. Available at: https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-az/c/cough-in-adults/ .Last accessed: 24/2/2022.


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