What can cause a cough?

Gerard W. Frank, MD
Pulmonary Disease
Coughing can be caused by many conditions, including the following:
  • cold
  • flu
  • postnasal drip
  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • irritation from smoking
  • sinus conditions
  • acid reflux (GERD)
  • cancer
  • tuberculosis
  • aspiration (particularly in people who have had a stroke)
Coughing is also a possible side effect of many medications.
Coughs can be caused by infection or anything that causes irritation in the airway.

Common causes of a cough are:
  • infections from viruses, bacteria and fungi
  • allergies
  • coming into contact with smoke or fumes
  • asthma
  • acid reflux

Continue Learning about Lung Disease and Respiratory System

How Dangerous is Vaping?
How Dangerous is Vaping?
A multi-state outbreak of a vaping-related lung illness first identified in August 2019 clearly challenged the dubious claim that using e-cigarettes i...
Read More
Are antibiotics needed for an upper respiratory infection?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Antibiotics are almost never needed for upper respiratory infections. The vast majority of upper res...
More Answers
What research is there on aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD)?
Tanya M. Laidlaw, MDTanya M. Laidlaw, MD
Two ongoing clinical trials at Brigham and Women's Hospital are on aspirin-exacerbated respiratory d...
More Answers
How Can I Tell If My Partner Really Has Sleep Apnea?
How Can I Tell If My Partner Really Has Sleep Apnea?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.