oa SA Pharmacist's Assistant - Managing an allergic cough : respiratory health

Volume 15, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1608-9634
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1068



Coughing is a physiological protective reflex action which is meant to clear the airway of mucus, infection, foreign bodies or irritants. Its purpose is to clear the airway so that breathing can continue normally. However, when a cough persists for many weeks or months, it becomes a disabling medical problem which can lead to loss of sleep, muscle pain and stress. Chronic cough sufferers lose sleep and miss work, and also experience exhaustion, frustration, embarrassment and frequent doctor visits. A persistent cough is a major quality-of-life issue.

Coughs can be either acute or chronic. Acute coughs begin suddenly and are often due to a cold, flu, sinus infection or acute bronchitis. Coughing which lasts for more than three weeks is considered to be chronic. Bouts of coughing which last for three weeks or longer might signify an allergy. A cough can be productive, or dry and irritating. The over secretion of sputum and phlegm, which then cause coughing, is described as a productive cough.

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