New insights into bacterial toxins

A toxin produced by a bacterium that causes urinary tract infections is related to, yet different in key ways from, the toxin that causes whooping cough, according to new research. The findings, which will be published in ...

Video: Does cough syrup really work?

What do you do when you have a bad cough? If you reach for the yummy, cherry-flavored cough medicine, you're not alone. Every year, people spend billions of dollars on these over-the-counter remedies. But do any of them work?

Tests show Midwestern canine flu outbreak stems from new strain

Canine influenza virus (CIV) has affected at least 1,000 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana in the last month, including one confirmed case in the Madison area. Previously thought to be caused by the H3N8 strain, ...

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Cough

A cough ( pronunciation (help·info) Latin: tussis) is a sudden and often repetitively occurring reflex which helps to clear the large breathing passages from secretions, irritants, foreign particles and microbes. The cough reflex consists of three phases: an inhalation, a forced exhalation against a closed glottis, and a violent release of air from the lungs following opening of the glottis, usually accompanied by a distinctive sound. Coughing can happen voluntarily as well as involuntarily.

Frequent coughing usually indicates the presence of a disease. Many viruses and bacteria benefit evolutionarily by causing the host to cough, which helps to spread the disease to new hosts. Most of the time, coughing is caused by a respiratory tract infection but can be triggered by choking, smoking, air pollution, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, post-nasal drip, chronic bronchitis, lung tumors, heart failure and medications such as ACE inhibitors.

Treatment should target the cause; for example, smoking cessation or discontinuing ACE inhibitors. Some people may be worried about serious illnesses, and reassurance may suffice. Cough suppressants such as codeine or dextromethorphan are frequently prescribed, but have been demonstrated to have little effect.[citation needed] Other treatment options may target airway inflammation or may promote mucus expectoration. As it is a natural protective reflex, suppressing the cough reflex might have damaging effects, especially if the cough is productive.

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