Lung Health:

Chronic Cough

Did You Know?

Those who have a persistent cough, wheezy chest or breathlessness should talk to their health-care professional about a spirometry test.

Coughing has a purpose.

It is your body’s way of keeping unwanted stuff from getting into your lungs. Coughing helps clear extra mucus from your airways (small tubes in your lungs). This extra mucus could be caused by smoking, a cold, nasal or sinus problems, a lung infection or a lung disease like asthma or COPD.

A cough may be caused by a condition not related to your lungs, such as heartburn, some medications, or throat irritants (for example, dust, pollution, or chemicals in your workplace or home).

Coughing up blood or thick mucus is not normal. If your cough makes you very tired or light-headed, causes chest or stomach pain, or causes you to wet yourself, you should talk to your health care professional.

What are the different types of cough?
Doctors divide coughing into three groups, based on how long the cough has lasted:

      • acute (coughing less than three weeks),
      • sub-acute (coughing that lasts from three to eight weeks), or
      • chronic (coughing that lasts longer than eight weeks).

Risk Factors

Risk factors for a chronic cough are varied. A chronic cough can indicate COPD (especially if you are over the age of 40 and are a current or previous smoker) or other lung diseases.

Management of a chronic cough will depend on the cause of the cough. Consult your health care professional to determine the cause of your cough.

1 in 5 New Brunswickers live with COPD

Simple Test

For informational purposes only. It should not replace a complete medical examination by a health care professional.


Do you cough regularly?


Do you regularly cough up phlegm?


Do even simple household chores make you breathless?


Do you have wheezing when you exercise, or at night?


Do you get frequent colds that persist longer than those of other people you know?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may have symptoms of COPD, or another lung disease.

Consult your health care professional and ask for a spirometry test.

Page Last Updated: 28/02/2023