Coughing is a reflex which occurs as a result of stimulation of sensory nerves found in the lining of the respiratory passages. Coughing involves an initial short intake of breath, after which the larynx closes. The muscles involved in respiration, those found in chest and the abdomen, contract and lead to an increase of the pressure driving the air out more intensely than usual when the larynx opens back up.
Why we cough?
When the air comes out in that process, it carries out dust and dirt particles, foreign agents or excess mucus, anything that could be irritating the airways.
Coughing is a natural and usually beneficial reflex whose purpose is to keep the lungs and the airways clean and sterile. If there are foreign particles in lungs, it increases the chance of infection because the bacteria use it as a favorable breeding ground.
Coughing can roughly be divided into two types- dry cough and productive cough. Productive cough means that a person is coughing up phlegm or excess mucus stuck in the respiratory system, while dry cough does not produce any material at all and it is usually quite irritating and violent.
Prevention of dry cough
There are many possible causes of dry cough, which means that ways of prevention depend on the individual cause. One of the most common causes is viral infection, as it happens in common cold or flu. Here, the prevention should consist of making sure not to contract the virus in the first place. This can be achieved by leading a healthy lifestyle, with proper and balanced nutrition, and keeping the immune system strong. In addition, it is vital to avoid contact with persons who are ill and to wash the hands after touching shared objects.
Another common cause of dry cough is smoking. Obviously, the best method of prevention in this case is to quit smoking and to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
Sometimes the cause of cough is a particle, usually food, sucked in the airways through the mouth. Chewing carefully and with the mouth closed, in an upright position of the body, can prevent this type of dry cough.
Dry cough can result from spending time in environments with dry air. This usually occurs during winter, because heating systems that are used in most homes reduce the humidity of the indoor air. Using humidifiers is a good way to prevent dry cough and other problems resulting from dry air.
Asthma and allergies
This type of cough is also characteristic for asthma and it can be prevented by avoiding asthma triggers and by using properly the prescribed medications.
As for the allergies, which also list cough as one of the symptoms, the prevention consists of avoiding the exposure to allergens, especially during times of high allergen activity.