AskDefine | Define cough

Dictionary Definition

cough

Noun

1 sudden expulsion of air from the lungs that clears the air passages; a common symptom of upper respiratory infection or bronchitis or pneumonia or tuberculosis [syn: coughing]
2 the act of exhaling air suddenly with a noise [syn: coughing] v : exhale abruptly, as when one has a chest cold or congestion; "The smoker coughs all day"

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From a Germanic imitative base *kox- (unattested in Old English, but probably present as *cohhian; compare cohhetan ‘shout’). Cognate with Dutch kuchen ‘cough’, German keuchen ‘pant’.

Pronunciation

  • /kɒf/
  • Rhymes: -ɒf

Verb

  1. To push air from the lungs in a quick, noisy explosion.
    I breathed in a load of smoke by mistake, and started to cough.
  2. To make a noise like a cough
    The engine coughed and sputtered.

Translations

push air from the lungs
  • Bosnian: kašljati
  • Chinese:
    Mandarin: 咳嗽
  • Croatian: kašljati
  • Czech: kašlat
  • Danish: hoste
  • Dutch: hoesten, kuchen
  • Finnish: yskiä, köhiä
  • French: tousser
  • German: husten
  • Greek: βήχω
  • Hindi:
  • Indonesian: batuk
  • Italian: tossire
  • Japanese: 咳をする (せきをする)
  • Korean: 기침하다 (gichim hada)
  • Kurdish: ,
  • Lao: ('ai)
  • Polish: kaszleć
  • Portuguese: tossir
  • Russian: кашлять, кашлянуть
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: кашљати
    Roman: kašljati
  • Slovene: kašljati
  • Spanish: toser
  • Urdu: (khāṇsnā)
make a noise like a cough
  • Bosnian: kašljati
  • Croatian: kašljati
  • Danish: hoste
  • Finnish: yskiä
  • French: tousser
  • German: husten
  • Greek: βήχω
  • Italian: tossire
  • Japanese: 咳払いをする
  • Polish: kaszleć
  • Portuguese: tossir
  • Russian: кашлять, кашлянуть
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: кашљати
    Roman: kašljati
  • Slovene: kašljati
  • Spanish: toser

Noun

  1. A sudden, usually noisy expulsion of air from the lungs, often involuntary.
    Behind me, I heard a distinct, dry cough.
  2. A condition that causes one to cough; a tendency to cough.
    Sorry, I can't come to work today – I've got a nasty cough.

Translations

expulsion of air from the lungs
  • Bosnian: kašalj
  • Chinese:
    Mandarin: 咳嗽
  • Croatian: kašalj
  • Czech: kašel
  • Danish: hoste
  • Dutch: hoest, kuch
  • Finnish: yskähdys, yskintä
  • French: toux
  • German: Husten
  • Greek: βήχας
  • Hindi: खांसी
  • Italian: tosse, colpo di tosse
  • Japanese: 咳 (せき)
  • Korean: 기침 (gichim)
  • Kurdish: ,
  • Polish: kaszel
  • Portuguese: tosse
  • Russian: кашель
  • Scottish Gaelic: casad
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: каш
    Roman: kašalj
  • Slovene: kašelj
  • Urdu: (khāṇsī)
condition that causes one to cough
  • Bosnian: kašalj
  • Croatian: kašalj
  • Danish: hoste
  • Dutch: hoest
  • Finnish: yskä
  • French: toux
  • Greek: βήχας (víkhas)
  • Italian: tosse
  • Portuguese: tosse
  • Russian: кашель
  • Scottish Gaelic: casad
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: каш
    Roman: kašalj
  • Slovene: kašelj
  • Spanish: tos

Extensive Definition

A cough, also known as tussis is a sudden, often repetitive, spasmodic contraction of the thoracic cavity, resulting in violent release of air from the lungs, and usually accompanied by a distinctive sound.
Coughing is an action the body takes to get rid of substances that are irritating the breathing passages. A cough is usually initiated to clear a buildup of phlegm in the trachea. Coughing can also be triggered by a bolus of food entering the trachea rather than the esophagus due to a failure of the epiglottis. Frequent or chronic coughing usually indicates the presence of a disease. Provided the patient is a non-smoker and has a normal chest X-ray, the cause of chronic cough in 93% of all patients is due to asthma, heartburn or post-nasal drip. Other causes of chronic cough include chronic bronchitis and medications such as ACE inhibitors. Coughing can happen voluntarily as well as involuntarily.

Physiology

A cough is a protective, primitive reflex in healthy individuals. The cough reflex is initiated by stimulation of two different classes of afferent nerves, namely the myelinated rapidly adapting receptors, and nonmyelinated C-fibers with endings in the lungs. However it is not certain that the stimulation of nonmyelinated C-fibers leads to cough with a reflex as it's meant in physiology (with its own five components): this stimulation may cause mast cells degranulation (through an asso-assonic reflex) and oedema which may work as a stimulus for rapidly adapting receptors.

Cause

"Persistent cough can be debilitating, socially distressing, and adversely impair quality of life." One of the more common presentations to a medical practitioner is a dry cough. The common causes of chronic dry coughing include post-nasal drip, gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma, post viral cough and certain drugs such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and aspirin. One of the causes of chronic coughing might even be mouth breathing induced dryness in the throat. If a cough lasts for more than three weeks, multiple causes are likely and symptoms will abate only when all the causes are treated will the patient be symptom free. Individuals who smoke often have a smoker's cough, a loud, hacking cough which often results in the expiration of phlegm. In Third World countries, where endemic tuberculosis and HIV related lung disease predominate, structural damage of the airways often occurs with resulting chronic cough.
Coughing may also be used for psychological or social reasons, such as the coughing before giving a speech. This is known as psychogenic, habit or tic coughing, and may increase in frequency in social situations featuring conflict.
Given its irritant nature to mammal tissues, capsaicin is widely used to determine the cough threshold and as a tussive stimulant in clinical research of cough suppressants.

Complications

The complications of coughing can be classified as either acute or chronic. Acute complications include cough syncope (fainting spells due to decreased blood flow to the brain when coughs are prolonged and forceful), insomnia, cough-induced vomiting, rupture of blebs causing spontaneous pneumothorax (although this still remains to be proven), subconjunctival hemorrhage or "red eye", coughing defecation and in women with a prolapsed uterus, cough urination. Chronic complications are common and include abdominal or pelvic hernias, fatigue fractures of lower ribs and costochondritis.

Treatment

Coughs can be treated with cough medicines. Dry coughs are treated with cough suppressants (antitussives) that suppress the body's urge to cough, while productive coughs (coughs that produce phlegm) are treated with expectorants that loosen mucus from the respiratory tract. Centrally acting cough suppressants, such as codeine and dextromethorphan reduce the urge to cough by inhibiting the response of the sensory endings by depolarization, or a dulling, of the vagus nerve, the nerve leading from the brain stem and serving the chest area. A recent study indicates that, because of the presence of theobromine in chocolate, 50 grams of dark chocolate may be an effective treatment for a persistent cough.

During injections

Coughing during an injection can lessen the pain of the needle stick caused by a sudden, temporary rise in pressure in the chest and spinal canal, inhibiting the pain-conducting structures of the spinal cord.

Psychological causes of Cough

Sometimes a cough can be found to have no apparent physical or medical cause. In these instances emotional and psychological problems are likely causes and the cough is often called a "psychogenic cough" (also known as a "habit cough" or "tic cough"). However, other illnesses have to be ruled out before a firm diagnosis of psychogenic cough is made. Psychogenic cough is thought to be more common in children than in adults. A possible scenario: psychogenic cough develops in a child who has a chronically ill brother or sister.

Social aspects of coughing

Coughing is not always involuntary, and can be used in social situations. Coughing can be used to attract attention, release internal psychological tension, or become a maladaptive displacement behavior. It is believed that the frequency of such coughing increases in environments vulnerable to psychological tension and social conflict. In such environments, coughing may become one of many displacement behaviors and/or defense mechanisms.
cough in Arabic: سعال
cough in Aymara: K'aja
cough in Bosnian: Kašalj
cough in Catalan: Tos
cough in Czech: Kašel
cough in German: Husten
cough in Estonian: Köha
cough in Spanish: Tos
cough in Basque: Eztul
cough in French: Toux
cough in Ido: Tuso
cough in Indonesian: Batuk
cough in Italian: Tosse
cough in Hebrew: שיעול
cough in Latin: Tussis
cough in Lithuanian: Kosulys
cough in Malayalam: ചുമ
cough in Malay (macrolanguage): Batuk
cough in Dutch: Hoest
cough in Japanese: 咳嗽
cough in Norwegian: Hoste
cough in Polish: Kaszel
cough in Portuguese: Tosse
cough in Quechua: Uhu
cough in Russian: Кашель
cough in Sicilian: Tussi
cough in Simple English: Cough
cough in Slovenian: Kašelj
cough in Serbian: Кашаљ
cough in Finnish: Yskä
cough in Swedish: Hosta
cough in Telugu: దగ్గు
cough in Turkish: Öksürük
cough in Chinese: 咳嗽

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Aqua-Lung, artificial respiration, aspiration, asthmatic wheeze, blow, breath, breath of air, breathe, breathe hard, breathe in, breathe out, breathing, broken wind, exhalation, exhale, exhaust, expel, expiration, expire, exsufflation, gasp, gulp, hack, hiccup, huff, inhalation, inhalator, inhale, inspiration, inspire, insufflation, iron lung, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, oxygen mask, oxygen tent, pant, puff, respiration, respire, scuba, sigh, sneeze, sniff, sniffle, snore, snoring, snort, snuff, snuffle, sternutation, stertor, suspiration, wheeze, wind
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