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Symptoms and Signs of How to Stop Chronic and Acute Coughs

Doctor's Notes on How to Stop Chronic and Acute Coughs

A cough is a reflex action the body takes to clear out substances that irritate the airways. Infectious causes of acute cough include

Noninfectious causes of cough include flare-ups of chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, including

Symptoms that accompany acute infectious coughs include

Symptoms that accompany acute noninfectious coughs include

  • wheezing,
  • coughs that worsen at certain locations or when a person does certain activities, or
  • coughs that improve with inhalers or
  • allergy medications.

Signs and symptoms of chronic cough depend on the cause. Depending on the cause, the cough may worsen when exposed to certain environmental irritants, in certain locations, or performing certain activities. The cough may improve with the use of allergy medications, quitting smoking, with the use of inhaled or oral steroids or other inhaled medications. Chronic cough associated with GERD may be accompanied by heartburn. If a chronic cough is a warning sign of an underlying cancer, symptoms may include

  • coughing up blood,
  • worsening fatigue,
  • loss of appetite,
  • unexplained loss of weight, or
  • decreased ability to swallow solid or
  • liquid foods.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 5/8/2020


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.