A cough is the rapid expulsion of air from the lungs to clear the throat and airways of mucus, foreign particles, fluids, microbes and various irritants.
According to a review carried out in 2013, the average cough lasts around 18 days. After more than eight weeks, a cough can be regarded as chronic and it is advisable to seek medical advice.
A cough can sometimes affect your health in unexpected ways. Apart from indicating illnesses like TB and some cancers, a chronic cough can also cause social embarrassment, interfere with sleeping patterns, as well as cause headaches and urinary incontinence. Here are some other ways a cough can cause your body structural damage:
Tissue damage in the throat
Persistent coughing can cause throat infections, which can lead to an infection risk to other parts of the body. A chronic cough may also cause inflammation in the tissues of the throat.
Persistent coughing can cause you chronic muscular pain because a strong pressure is generated when you cough and this can lead to strained muscles.
Damage to small blood vessels
Violent coughing may cause fine blood vessels (in the anus and nose, for example) to burst, leading to haemorrhage.
Rupture of the diaphragm
During the expiratory phase of a cough, your diaphragm contracts. During forced respiratory movements, the diaphragm is pushed upward while the ribs are pushed inward and downward. This opposing action can sometimes result in diaphragmatic rupture.
Although damage to the abdominal wall after coughing is rare, it may require surgical intervention. Both abdominal herniations and abdominal muscle tears have been reported. Abdominal muscle tears are difficult to detect and tend to occur in patients with chronic bronchitis. However, abdominal hernias caused by cough are easier to detect.
Women usually experienced rib fractures when suffering from chronic coughing and it is mostly the middle ribs along the side that are affected.