How Long Do Coughs Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 Weeks

A cough can be defined as a rapid expulsion of air with a great force from one’s mouth. The air so expelled comes directly from the lungs. Coughing can be either be deliberate or involuntary but mostly it is part of reflux. The majority of the coughs are caused due to certain viruses or germs present in the environment.

Constant coughing can be a sign of some illness that generally clears on its own within a few weeks. Coughing is nothing but the body’s way of telling that a foreign particle that has entered the body is irritating one’s throat or airways. It is generally not serious and thus does not require immediate medical attention.

How Long Do Coughs Last

How Long Do Coughs Last?

Types Of CoughsDuration
Acute coughsLess or equal to 3 weeks
Subacute coughs3 to 8 weeks
Chronic coughsMore than 8 weeks

Coughing can be a sign of some underlying disease like the common cold, flu, etc. When a person coughs due to these common reasons, it is advisable to consume plenty of fluids and be patient for the cough to go away on its own. In such cases, mild coughs clear up after 2 – 3 weeks.

Coughs can be of various types like wet cough, whooping cough, choking, and chronic cough. Dry coughs are extremely common and not at all serious. In these types of coughs, there is little or no build-up of mucus. The major cause of dry cough is mild asthma. They usually go away in a few days after one has had their cough syrup.

Wet coughs are those wherein there is a build-up of mucus. It is typically caused by some infection, flu, chest infection, etc. Whooping coughs are those coughs that are highly contagious due to bacterial infection. Such a type of cough might go away in 2 – 3 weeks from the time the person starts coughing.

Choking refers to coughing that happens due to a partially blocked airway. It occurs when the body tries to clear the throat up. It is might also happen when one has consumed something so big that it gets stuck in one’s throat and is causing irritation which the body is trying to get rid of.

Chronic cough is a type of cough that lasts for a longer period. It is generally not continuous and happens in an on and off fashion. These types of coughs are generally a strong indicator of some underlying disease. Some of the common causes of such chronic i.e long-term coughs are smoking, allergies, pneumonia, throat or oral cancer, etc

Why Do Coughs Last So Long?

Cough is an extremely common illness symptom that can be seen in people belonging to any age group. It can be a symptom of a variety of different health problems or can be an outcome of something that might have gotten stuck in one’s throat and is causing irritation, eventually resulting in coughing.

Coughs can also be a reflexive action of the body to keep the throat and airways clear for seamless transfer of air to and from the lungs. The duration for which a certain type of cough might last would depend on the reason behind the cause of the cough.

Many times coughs are a typical symptom of the common cold that can last for different periods depending on the severity of the condition. Coughs caused due to flu are often accompanied by different symptoms like headache, sore throat, muscle pain, etc along with coughing.

Conclusion

Coughing generally is not a sign of something serious but at times it can result in choking or might bear the risk of becoming a chronic cough. In almost all cases, coughs do not require any medical assistance to clear up. Mild coughs go away in a few weeks after one takes a cough drop or cough syrup that is effective in treating coughs.

The average duration for which a cough can last is about 3 weeks. However, chronic cough, which is also called long-term cough can last for a period that is beyond 3 weeks. Although coughs do not always signify that one is under the influence of some disease, if the cough sounds bad, it is best to visit one’s doctor to prevent any unfavorable consequences in the future.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1094553910001264
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