Most coughs are harmless, but chronic coughing, which last for more than two months, could be a sign of a more serious health condition! Here are some of the most common coughing triggers:

  • Trigger #1: Asthma. Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which the airways are prone to swelling and becoming blocked. It’s often caused by allergies, and it’s the most common reason people of all ages develop an intense cough. But you’ll need a doctor to determine if you’re coughing because of an allergy or asthma.

  • The next coughing trigger: Respiratory tract infection. If you develop a nagging cough that outlasts a common cold or flu, then you may have an infection. The mildest form of infection is called “postnasal drip,” and its #1 symptom is extra sensitivity to cool or dusty air. A more serious infection is pneumonia, which produces a greenish or red-colored mucus when you cough! Both infections can be treated with antibiotics.

  • A 3rd coughing trigger: Bronchitis. Like pneumonia, bronchitis causes a deep, mucus-filled cough that can last for weeks. If those hacking fits come and go in short bursts, doctors call it “acute” bronchitis. And it’ll usually clear up once the cause of your lung irritation goes away, like if you stop smoking! However, if you keep coughing up phlegm for months at a time, then you may have the next coughing trigger:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. That’s the fancy term for having both bronchitis and emphysema at the same time. A study found that 24 million North Americans suffer from COPD mostly due to smoking. And while there’s no cure, coughing can be managed with drug treatments or oxygen therapy.