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Chesty coughs are coughs triggered by an excessive amount of mucus in the chest. For this reason, they are sometimes also referred to as mucus coughs. Doctors refer to chesty coughs as ‘productive coughs’ as the act of coughing produces (or brings up) mucus from the chest.
This page provides information on chesty coughs resulting from viral infections such as the cold or flu. Follow the link for information on dry, tickly coughs.
Air enters the body via the lungs. It moves firstly through the large and medium sized tubes known as the bronchi and bronchioles. These tubes are lined by tissue known as the mucus membranes, so-called because they produce mucus which covers the surfaces of the tubes.
This mucus covering has a purpose – it traps unwanted particles such as dust, bacteria and viruses which enter the lungs, moving these upwards towards the back of the throat where, without thinking about it, mucus is swallowed and then destroyed by the stomach acids.
When cold or flu viruses enter the respiratory system, these membranes increase the production of mucus in an attempt to fight off the infection. This extra amount of mucus cannot be removed using the normal mechanism and a cough reflex is triggered to enable the lungs to remove the abnormal amount of mucus or phlegm.
Chesty coughs can also be caused by other conditions apart from cold or flu infections. Seek medical advice if you:
Treatment of a chesty cough aims to thin the mucus in the chest, making it easier for the body to bring it up when coughing. There are a number of ways of doing this:
If you suffer from a chesty cough, you can help the cough resolve faster:
Dry, tickly cough
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