Coughing is a reflex action. It enables the body to clear any foreign substances from the throat or to rid the throat of mucus. A cough occurs when a substance irritates the tissues in the respiratory tract, air is then forced out of the lungs under high pressure.
There are two different categories of coughs, acute and chronic. Acute coughs can be divided into infectious or non-infectious categories. Infectious coughs occur when the individual has an infection and is usually present alongside other symptoms of infection such as sore throat, aches, fever, headaches and runny nose. Different types of allergens or irritants cause non-infectious coughs, such as food items, pollen, dust, pet hair, mould, pollution, smoke or chemicals.
Chronic coughs may equally be caused by constant exposure to allergens or irritants, however, they can also be caused by chronic sinus infections, medications, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and more serious health conditions such as chronic lung diseases and cancer.