cough

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Related to coughs: dry coughs

cough,

sudden, forceful expiration of air from the lungs caused by an involuntary contraction of the muscles controlling the process of breathing. The cough is a response to some irritating condition such as inflammation or the presence of mucus (sputum) in the respiratory tract, as in infectious disease, or to heavy dust or industrial or tobacco smoke. Coughing may also be a reflex action to factors outside the respiratory tract; diseases that are not respiratory in nature (e.g., congestive heart failure or mitral valve disease) often bring on coughing. If there is mucus or a foreign substance in the respiratory tract, the cough should not be hindered since by this action the offending matter is expelled from the body. If, however, the cough becomes exhausting, sedation is indicated.

Cough

 

a reflex act usually occurring as a result of the irritation of the mucous membrane in the respiratory tract during an inflammatory process caused by pathological products (for example, sputum) or foreign bodies. A cough is one of the principal indications of disease in the respiratory organs (larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs). The cough center in the brain can sometimes be stimulated without irritation of the respiratory tracts. This is the so-called nervous cough that occurs in cases of fear and embarrassment. A distinction is made between a dry cough (without the formation and secretion of sputum) and a wet cough (with sputum).

The cough stimulus begins by deep inhalation, followed by a tensing of the bronchial and all the respiratory muscles resulting in forced expulsion. In so doing, the rima glottidis is closed, and intrathoracic pressure rises sharply. With the opening of the rima glottidis, the air bursts forth from the respiratory tract, carrying with it the sputum that has accumulated in the bronchi and pulmonary alveoli, dust particles, and so forth. Thus, a cough can be beneficial in helping to cleanse the respiratory tract. However, a protracted and severe cough that occurs with infections of the pleura, liver, and some other organs is harmful to the organism, since a systematic elevation of the intrathoracic and intrabronchial pressure leads to the gradual formation of pulmonary emphysema and impedes the flow of blood through the veins to the heart. This can lead to cardiopulmonary insufficiency.

Treatment is directed at the affliction that has caused thecough. With a wet cough, particularly if it is difficult to bring upthe sputum, expectorants are used; with a dry, persistent cough, cough suppressants are administered.

cough

[kȯf]
(medicine)
A sudden, violent expulsion of air after deep inspiration and closure of the glottis.
References in classic literature ?
"Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you choose," said Mr.
Snagsby blows his nose and coughs his cough of sympathy, a step is heard without.
Snagsby trails off into saying, with an awkward cough, "I must ask you to excuse the liberty, sir, I am sure."
The frost bites their lungs, and they get the dry cough. They cough till the tears run down their cheeks.
Besides, their cough is very bad - the dry cough that makes strong men swear and weak men cry.
(Cough, cough, cough!) You might as well keep your hats on.
You old hands got so wise, that a child cannot cough, or sneeze, but you see desperation and ruin at hand.
His brother got into bed, and whether he slept or did not sleep, tossed about like a sick man, coughed, and when he could not get his throat clear, mumbled something.
If my cough takes me, I shall cough out twenty matches afore I gets a light.'
When this interchange of Christian name was effected, Madame Defarge, picking her teeth with her toothpick, coughed another grain of cough, and raised her eyebrows by the breadth of another line.
The friend put his hand up to his mouth and coughed again.
The matron looked, from the little kettle, to the beadle, who was moving towards the door; and as the beadle coughed, preparatory to bidding her good-night, bashfully inquired whether--whether he wouldn't take a cup of tea?