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Is a Cough Contagious?

👤by MedicineNet.com 0 comments 🕔Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection. Symptoms of whooping cough early in the infection are similar to those of the common cold and include:

a dry cough, mild fever, nasal congestion, nasal discharge, and sneezing.

What is a cough?

A cough is defined as the act of forcing air through your throat, often followed by short loud noise. Coughing can be a reflexive action to keep respiratory passages free of irritating substances (such as dust, mucous, phlegm, nasal drainage and foreign bodies). Consequently, a cough reflex can be protective mechanism for the individual. There are many types of coughs including:

Dry cough: a cough that doesn't produce mucus (also termed a non-productive cough) Wet cough: a cough that produces mucus or sputum (also termed a productive cough) Barking cough: a cough associated with viral illnesses and/or croup especially in young children usually (croup cough) Whooping cough: a cough associated with infection (pertussis); individuals (usually children) produce a whooping sound when they cough Stress cough: reflexive, nonproductive cough that occurs when an individual is under stress Acute cough: a cough that has just begun or has been intermittent, often resulting within a week or so. Chronic cough: a cough that is persistent over time (more than 1 to 8 or more weeks); the timeframe is controversial as health-care professionals and researchers list a variety of time frames to define a chronic cough

Is a cough contagious?

A cough itself is not contagious. Of note, a cough can be a sign of something irritating, impeding, or blocking an airway. But a cough also can be a method of spreading a viral or bacterial infectious disease if the disease is transmitted by airborne droplets. Consequently, people are understandably concerned that coughing is "contagious". However, what is actually contagious is the infecting pathogen, not the cough itself. The transmitted infecting agent may produce the same symptoms, including a cough, in another individual.

Coughing can induce a gagging reflex that, in turn, can produce vomiting. This situation of coughing with vomiting occasionally occurs. Vomiting can be reflexive and is a means to remove irritating material from the body, specifically the contents of the stomach.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/2/2016

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