Coughing is a reflex that is triggered by the body in an attempt to expel harmful substances out of the body as well as keeping the airways clear. An occasional cough can occur as a result of dust particles or irritating substances in the air or can be triggered by an acute sickness such as common cold. Damage to the lungs or chronic excess production of mucus can instigate recurrent hacking cough in an attempt to clear up the airways.
The lungs contain a network of airways called as bronchial tubes that enable air to flow into and out of the lungs and maintain proper exchange of gases. Chronic bronchitis is a condition where the bronchial tubes are irritated and swollen.
The inflammation of the tubes results to a narrowed space within the airways and the irritation instigates the mucus membranes in the bronchial tubes to generate excess mucus. The excess mucus accumulates in the constricted space of the airways and cause recurrent hacking cough along with chest tightness and difficulty breathing. This condition is considered chronic if the symptoms last for at least 3 months. Take note that smoking is the leading cause of chronic bronchitis, but frequent exposure to chemical irritants or dust particles can also trigger the condition. The initial treatment includes cessation of smoking and avoidance of harmful substances.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition that involves inflammation of the bronchial tubes. The symptoms of asthma occur in attacks where the muscles surrounding the airways contract. This causes the airways to tighten while the airway lining becomes swollen.
The symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, hacking cough, wheezing and chest tightness. The exact cause of asthma is unclear but the common triggers for the attacks include dust particles, animal dander, cold temperatures, strenuous physical activity, smoke and increased stress. The treatment for asthma includes long-term management and quick-relief medications.
The lungs contain air sacs called alveoli that hold the smallest bronchial tubes. These open up to help with normal breathing. Emphysema occurs once the alveoli become enlarged and rupture which causes the bronchial tubes to constrict.
This can affect breathing and gas exchange that result to permanent damage to the lung tissues. The most common cause of emphysema is cigarette smoking. The symptoms of emphysema include recurrent hacking cough, premature exertion during exercises, evidently enlarged chest and shortness of breath. If not treated, it can lead to respiratory failure and heart failure.
The objective of treatment is to slow down the progression of lung damage as well as improve breathing. This is possible through the cessation of smoking as well as using inhaled medications that opens up the airways. If the condition worsens, oxygen therapy might be required.