Productive vs. Nonproductive Coughs
A cough is the body’s way of removing foreign material or mucus from the lungs and airway passages. There are two types of coughs: productive and nonproductive. Nonproductive, or dry, coughs occur when the airway passages are irritated by the first stages of a cold or infection. As the body reacts to the illness, it produces mucus or phlegm, which will be expectorated by a productive, or wet, cough.
A nonproductive cough is dry and does not produce mucus.
A productive cough produces phlegm or mucus, and should not be suppressed because it is clearing mucus from the lungs.
Most coughs subside within one week to 10 days. Coughs that linger longer or are associated with coughing up colored phlegm or blood, wheezing, temperatures higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and drenching night sweats can be symptoms of a more serious illness like pneumonia or asthma. If experiencing these symptoms, please consult a doctor.