Cough Clue #2: When Does the Cough Happen?
I cough at certain times of the year.
Does the cough seem to follow a calendar? Seasonal allergies can affect the airways to produce a cough right along with the most common hay fever symptoms of sinus blockage and eye irritation.
Cold weather, especially exercising in it, can trigger a kind of asthma called "hyperactive airways."
I've coughed since starting new blood pressure medication.
A chronic dry cough afflicts 10 to 20 percent of people who take angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) for high blood pressure and heart failure. The cough may appear right away or months after beginning treatment. The throat also feels raw. This cough clears within a week to a few months of changing meds.
I cough before I speak.
Even though coughing is automatic, you can also cough voluntarily (as with blinking and swallowing). Some people develop the nervous habit of throat clearing before they talk -- ahem! -- or during public speaking. The phenomenon is so common that lung experts have given it a name: a "habit cough."
I cough whenever my body wants to; I can't control it.
This is the most common situation. A persistent, uncontrollable cough is usually linked to an underlying disease.
More rarely, coughing and throat clearing can be a tic -- a semivoluntary movement that could be suppressed but that people feel a compelling urge to do anyway, partly because doing so brings a brief relaxing sensation.