Understanding the different types of Coughs

Yolo Healthcare > Blog > Health > Healthy Lifestyle Choices > Understanding the different types of Coughs

Understanding the different types of Coughs

What is a Cough?

A cough is a reflex action that helps clear the upper (throat) and lower (lungs) air passages of irritants, mucus, or foreign particles. It is a common and natural defense mechanism of the body to protect the respiratory system from potential harm.

Categorizing the types of Coughs:

Coughing is a common symptom that can indicate various underlying health conditions. Understanding the different types of coughs can help individuals and healthcare professionals identify the root cause and provide appropriate treatment.

01: Dry Cough:

A Dry Cough is characterized by the absence of mucus or phlegm. It often feels irritating or tickling in the throat.

Dry coughs typically occur when there is inflammation or irritation in the respiratory tract, but there isn’t very much or any mucus to cough up. [1]

Common causes include viral infections (such as common cold or flu), allergies, irritants (like smoke or pollution), and certain medications.

02: Wet or Productive Cough

Wet or productive coughs, also known as chesty coughs, are characterized by the expulsion of mucus or phlegm from the respiratory tract.

A wet cough is usually an indication that there is excess mucus or fluid present in the airways, which the body is trying to expel.

Wet coughs can result from respiratory infections (such as bronchitis or pneumonia), allergies, asthma, or chronic conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

03: Barking Cough

A barking cough, also known as a croup cough, is a distinctive coughing sound that resembles the bark of a seal or a dog. It is often described as harsh, dry, and raspy.

This type of cough is most commonly associated with a condition called croup, which is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract, particularly the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).

Croup is typically caused by viruses, such as parainfluenza virus. Other symptoms of croup may include a hoarse voice, difficulty breathing, stridor (a high-pitched sound when breathing in), and fever.

04: Chronic Cough

A chronic cough is defined as a cough that persists for eight weeks or longer in adults, or four weeks or longer in children. It is a common symptom of various underlying conditions and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

The most common causes of persistent cough are allergic rhinitis, sinus infections, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, eosinophilic bronchitis, smoking, infection, and medication side effects. [2]

By understanding the characteristics and causes of each type of cough, individuals and healthcare professionals can provide targeted treatment to alleviate symptoms and address the root cause effectively.


[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/types-of-coughs#types

[2] https://info.isabelhealthcare.com/blog/9-types-of-cough-symptoms-causes-and-when-to-seek-help