Is a Cough Contagious?

Reviewed on 12/17/2020

What Is Cough?

Coughing isn't a condition in itself, but an indication of an underlying medical condition. Coughing caused by bacterial or viral upper respiratory infections are contagious, but coughing caused by disorders like asthma and COPD is not.
Coughing isn’t a condition in itself, but an indication of an underlying medical condition. Coughing caused by bacterial or viral upper respiratory infections are contagious, but coughing caused by disorders like asthma and COPD is not.

Cough is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of an underlying medical condition. A cough can be voluntary or involuntary, and it is the body’s way to help clear the airways of irritants and to prevent infection. 

What Are Symptoms of Cough?

A cough may be accompanied by other cold symptoms, including:

What Causes Cough?

Causes of cough include:

Is a Cough Contagious?

Cough itself is not contagious as it is a symptom of another condition, however, some causes of cough can be contagious. 

Infectious causes of cough such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi can be transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory droplets propelled into the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs

How Is Cough Diagnosed?

Cough is diagnosed with a history and physical exam. Tests may be used to help diagnose the cause of the cough. 

QUESTION

Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection? See Answer

What Is the Treatment for Cough?

Treatment for cough depends on the cause. Treatment may include: 

Home remedies to help relieve a cough include:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Gargle with warm saltwater 
  • Inhale steam in a shower or using a humidifier 
  • Suck on cough lozenges (lozenges are not recommended for young children; they can be a choking hazard)  
  • Avoid allergens such as pollen, dust, animals, or mold 
  • Avoid inhaled irritants such as smoke, dust, and other pollutants
  • Don’t smoke
  • For GERD: Avoid foods that increase reflux, avoid meals before lying down, elevate the head while sleeping

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 12/17/2020
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/chronic-cough-in-adults-beyond-the-basics

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0215/p567.html

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/cough