Cough causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Cafer Zorkun, M.D., Ph.D. [2] ; M.Umer Tariq [3] Abiodun Akanmode,M.D.[4]


A persistent cough can be debilitating, socially distressing, and adversely impair quality of life(Qol). One of the more common presentations to a medical practitioner is a dry cough. The common causes of chronic dry coughing include post-nasal drip, gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma, post viral cough and certain drugs such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and aspirin. If a cough lasts for more than three weeks, multiple causes are likely and symptoms will abate only when all the causes are treated will the patient be symptom-free. Individuals who smoke often have a smoker's cough, a loud, hacking cough which often results in the expiration of phlegm.

Coughing may also be used for psychological or social reasons, such as the coughing before giving a speech. This is known as psychogenic, habit or tic coughing, and may increase in frequency in social situations featuring conflict.


Given its irritant nature to mammal tissues, capsaicin is widely used to determine the cough threshold and as a tussive stimulant in clinical research of cough suppressants.[1][2]

Common Causes

Causes by Organ System


Aortic arch anomalies, Atrial myxoma, Beriberi Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, Hypotension, Mitral stenosis, Right Ventricular Outflow Tract Obstruction, Superior Vena Cava Syndrome, Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms,

Chemical / poisoning

Abrin, Cadmium poisoning, Polymer fume fever,

Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect

Abacavir , Abatacept , ABVD, ACE inhibitor, Acetylmorphone, Acyclovir , Adalimumab , Adefovir , Albuterol , Alefacept , Alfuzosin , Aliskiren , Amiodarone , Amlodipine and Benazepril , Amphotericin B , Anagrelide , Anastrozole , Artemether/lumefantrine, Atazanavir , Aztreonam, Benazepril, Bepridil , Bevacizumab , Bitolterol , Bortezomib , Brimonidine , Budesonide, Busulfan , Captopril, Carvedilol , Cetuximab , Cevimeline, Chlorambucil , Ciclesonide, Cladribine , Clobutinol, Clofarabine , Clofedanol, Co-trimoxazole , Conjugated estrogens, crofelemer, Cromolyn Sodium , Cytarabine , Dacarbazine , Dactinomycin , Darbepoetin Alfa ,Denileukin diftitox, Desmopressin, Diborane, Docetaxel , Domiodol, Dornase alfa, DTPA, Efalizumab , Efavirenz , Eltrombopag, Emtricitabine , Enalapril , Enfuvirtide, Epinastine , Eplerenone , Epoetin Alfa , Eprosartan , Erlotinib , Estradiol Topical , Etanercept , Febuxostat, Fexofenadine , Floxuridine , Fludarabine Phosphate , Flunisolide, Fluorouracil , Fluticasone and Salmeterol , Fluvastatin , Fosamprenavir , Fosinopril , Gabapentin , Gefitinib , Gemcitabine Hydrochloride , Glyburide and Metformin , Granisetron , Histrelin , Idelalisib, Ibandronate , Idursulfase, Ifosfamide , Iloprost, Imipramine, Insulin Human (rDNA Origin) , Interferon beta-1a Intramuscular , Isoproterenol , Ketorolac, Lamivudine , Lamotrigine , Letrozole , Levalbuterol, Linagliptin, Lisinopril , Lisinopril and Hydrochlorothiazide, Lomustine , Lorcaserin, Mechlorethamine , Melphalan , Mercaptopurine , Mesalamine , Metaproterenol , Methotrexate , Metoprolol, Minocycline hydrochloride, Mitomycin , Moexipril , Moxifloxacin , Mycophenolic acid, Naltrexone, Naproxen and esomeprazole magnesium, Natalizumab , Nateglinide , Nedocromil , Nicotine nasal spray , Nilutamide , Nitrofurantoin , Nivolumab, Olaparib, Omalizumab, Omeprazole , Oxaliplatin , Oxcarbazepine , Paclitaxel, Pamidronate , Peginterferon alfa-2a , Pemetrexed , Penbutolol , Pentamidine, Perindopril, Pegaspargase , Pimecrolimus topical , Pirbuterol acetate , Plicamycin , Pramipexole, Primaquine , Procarbazine , Prograf, Quinapril, Ramelteon , Ramipril, Ribavirin , Risedronate , Risperidone , Rosiglitazone , Rosuvastatin , Salmeterol , Saquinavir , Sevelamer , Sirolimus , Sodium stibogluconate, Spironolactone , Sulindac , Sunitinib, Tacrolimus, Tamsulosin , Thioguanine , Thiotepa , Tipranavir , Tocainide , Topotecan Hydrochloride , Trametinib dimethyl sulfoxide, Trandolapril, Triamcinolone acetonide, trichophyton mentagrophytes and trichophyton rubrum, Trimetrexate Glucuronate , Valganciclovir hydrochloride, Vinorelbine Tartrate , Vorinostat , Zanamivir , Zidovudine, Ziprasidone ,

Ear Nose Throat

Acute viral nasopharyngitis (common cold), Adenoid hypertrophy, Allergic rhinitis, Atopic rhinitis, Croup, Goiter, Laryngitis, Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease, Laryngotracheal cleft, Pharyngitis, Post-nasal drip, Strep throat, Subglottic hemangioma, Subglottic stenosis, Tonsillolith,

Endocrine Goiter,

Caplan's Syndrome, Chronic beryllium disease (CBD), Hay fever, Low humidity, Occupational exposure of irritants Passive smoking, Sick building syndrome, Silicosis, Smoking,


Achalasia, Esophageal atresia, Esophageal cancer, Esophageal dysmotility, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, Mallory-Weiss syndrome,


Cystic fibrosis, Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML),

Hematologic No underlying causes

Chest tube, Thoracentesis, Transfusion-associated graft versus host disease,

Infectious Disease

Adenoviridae, Aphthovirus, Ascaris infection, Aspergillosis, Blastomycosis, Bordetella pertussis, Byssinosis, Chickenpox, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Cladosporium, CMV Pneumonitis, Coccidioidomycosis, Community-acquired pneumonia, Cryptococcosis, Fasciolosis, Filariasis, Gnathostomiasis, Histoplasmosis, Human ehrlichiosis, Infectious mononucleosis, Influenza, Lady Windermere syndrome, Lassa fever, Legionellosis, Measles, Melioidosis, Miliary tuberculosis, Mucor stolonifer, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Nocardiosis, Paprika splitter's lung, Paracoccidioidomycosis, Papillomatosis, Paragonimus Infection, Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia, Psittacosis, Q Fever, Rhinovirus, Saccharopolyspora rectivirgula, Schistosomiasis, Sporotrichosis, Strep throat, Thermoactinomyces sacchari, Thermoactinomyces vulgaris, Trichinosis, Tuberculosis, Tularemia, Typhoid fever, Upper respiratory tract infection, Yersinia Pestis Infection,

Musculoskeletal / Ortho No underlying causes
Neurologic No underlying causes
Nutritional / Metabolic

Beriberi Heart Disease, Cholesterol pneumonia,


Bronchogenic cyst, Pulmonary sequestration, Esophageal atresia, Peripartum cardiomyopathy,


Cervical mass, Esophageal cancer, Kaposi's sarcoma, Laryngeal cancer, Lymphangitis carcinomatous, Mediastinal tumor, Mesothelioma, Papillomatosis, Thymoma,

Opthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose / Toxicity

Ganciclovir , Nickel carbonyl, Valganciclovir , Salicylate sensitivity,

Psychiatric Psychogenic cough,

Acute bronchitis, Acute Chest Syndrome, Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, Asthma, Atelectasis, Atypical pneumonia, Aspergillosis, Blastomycosis, Bronchial stenosis, Bronchial web, Bronchiectasis, Bronchiolitis, Bronchitis, Bronchogenic cyst, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Ciliary dyskinesia, Cystic fibrosis, Goodpasture's syndrome, Hamman-Rich syndrome, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, Interstitial pneumonia, Lady Windermere syndrome, Lung abscess, Pleurisy, Pleuropulmonary blastoma, Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis, Pulmonary Embolism, Pulmonary hypertension, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, Tracheal stenosis, Tracheitis, Tracheoesophageal fistula, Tracheomalacia,

Renal / Electrolyte

Congenital nephrotic syndrome, Rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis,

Rheum / Immune / Allergy Sarcoidosis,
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma Post cerebrovascular accident,
Urologic No underlying causes

Alcoholism, Aspirated foreign bodies, Cerumenosis, Choking, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Ear foreign body, Hair in the ear canal,

Causes in Alphabetical Order

Causes of Nonproductive Cough

Productive Cough


  1. Omar S. Usmani, Maria G. Belvisi, Hema J. Patel, Natascia Crispino, Mark A. Birrell, Marta Korbonits, Dezso Korbonits, and Peter J. Barnes (2005). "Theobromine inhibits sensory nerve activation and cough" (pdf). The FASEB Journal. 19: 231–233.
  2. Arella, A. (nd), Coughing as an Indicator of Displacement Behaviour (PDF) (Unpublished thesis)

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