Coughing is a natural reflex action that is triggered by an irritant in your respiratory passage. Coughing is done to expel that irritant as forcefully and rapidly as you can. When your cough reflex is triggered by the irritant receptors that line your lower respiratory tract, you will cough.
Coughing can also be voluntary, but these usually lack the intensity of true coughs. Fits of coughing, when you have an uncontrollable cough, are known as paroxysmal coughing, and they may occur with larger obstructions or in some diseases.
Uncontrollable coughing that continues even after you feel out of breath will lead to soreness in your chest and airways, and may even lead you to vomit. Conditions that lead to a coughing fit are usually either stimulating the receptors in your respiratory system, telling it there is something there, or that area of your brain is not functioning properly, and it sends the cough reflex repeatedly, without anything being trapped in your respiratory system. This second type of coughing fit is rare.
When you’re coughing, air in your lungs is suddenly expelled, to clear the path between your lungs and throat. Coughing is quite common, and you should always cover your mouth in your clenched elbow, so you don’t get germs on your hands, if indeed you are carrying any germs.
Your throat may feel violated and scratchy after you have done forceful coughing, and you may feel somewhat uncomfortable afterward. In most non-infectious and simple cases, your cough should go away in a couple of days. In some cases, though, coughing may take a number of weeks to conquer.
Uncontrollable Cough – What are the Causes?
Uncontrollable fits of coughing are more common among children, as well as young adults. It may be caused by whooping cough in some children, or bronchiectasis in some adults. These may also cause episodes of coughing that appear uncontrolled. Among the most common causes for coughing fits include:
- Whooping cough
This disease is more common among children. The infection itself is tough and violent, and brought on by bacteria. The “whooping” sound in the throat when breathing gives the disease its name. It can also cause air blockage in the throat and vomiting. You can prevent it in both adults and children by a regular vaccine.
Whooping cough is probably the reason for your uncontrollable cough if you also have several of these symptoms:
- Red, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Thick congestion
- Cough and fever with other diseases
The difficulty in diagnosing whooping cough is due to the fact that the symptoms will not appear at the beginning of the disease. They usually don’t appear until the child has already had a cough for a week to 10 days. It may get worse in the days following that time, with uncontrollable fits of coughing that can cause:
- Red or blue coloring in face
- High-pitched “whoop” sounds when breathing
- Sudden changes in weather
On days when there is a sudden change in either weather or temperature, more bacteria may enter your body. This may result in coughing fits for up to two or three days.
- Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Stomach acid sometimes causes an uncontrollable cough due to the disease GERD. In these cases, stomach acid travels back into your esophagus and causes irritation. You may feel irritation in your throat and a sour taste after coughing. One common GERD system is heartburn during normal sleep time. As a result, you may experience coughing fits, along with irritation in the back of your throat.
Inflammation in your bronchial tube may be caused by bronchitis. This is one of the more common reasons for an uncontrollable cough in adults. It is commonly caused by smokers, since the flakes of smoke can enter your airway and cause it to become irritated.
In addition, smoke flakes stimulate an excess in the production of mucus, which means you may need to clear your throat more frequently. Bronchiectasis may be caused by heredity or an autoimmune issue, but is usually caused by other respiratory infections like tuberculosis or pneumonia.
Asthma occurs when your lung’s airways are constricted, and thus narrower than they should be. This makes the transfer of air more difficult. It may be brought on by several seasonal or viral infections, including stress, weather changes, impurities like smoke or dust in the air, immune-related hypersensitivity or allergies.
Asthma can cause an uncontrollable cough in both adults and children. It can also result in wheezing and breathing problems during coughing.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not infectious, but it does cause a blocking of the airways. It is often caused by smoking, inhaled toxins or impurities in the air. It may become serious enough to cause the uncontrollable cough that is known as “smoker’s cough”.
- Other Health Reasons
Other reasons for coughing fits include some medications prescribed for heart issues and high blood pressure. In addition, lung cancer and seasonal allergies can cause an uncontrollable coughing, as can post nasal drip, since it causes irritation at the back of the throat.
Dealing with an Uncontrollable Cough
Coughing fits can ruin your day or disrupt your sleep. Here are a number of helpful tips that you can follow to avoid them.
Eucalyptus is an excellent coughing remedy. It’s a decongestant that helps to naturally ease coughing fits. You can rub it on the bottoms of your feet or apply it on your chest, along with olive oil.
- Herbal Tea with Honey
Drinking decaffeinated herbal tea each night before you go to bed is helpful for your cough, and even more beneficial if you add honey, which accelerates the soothing of your throat. Warm liquids break up mucus in the airways, so drink warm tea, not iced tea.
Taking in steam provides relief to your irritated throat, and wets your dry airway. A steam bath is beneficial, or you can use a vaporizer with a towel over your head to keep the steam going into your nostrils.
Cough medicines are helpful in loosening mucus buildup and they block your cough reflex. They also will reduce your need to cough. Check the labels before you take any medications, and consult with your physician if you’re not sure you should take it.
- Sleeping on an Inclined Surface
Use pillows or boards beneath the head of your bed to keep your head higher than the rest of your body. This keeps excess mucus from filling your throat.
- Keep your Bedding Clean
A clean bed won’t easily allow allergies or bacteria to affect you. Keep your bedding clean by washing it in antibacterial soap and hot water.
- Consult your Physician
If you have an uncontrollable cough for seven or more days, see your physician so that the problem can be properly treated.