What Causes a Persistent Cough with Phlegm?

A healthy person should cough around 18.6 times per day. Women were found to cough more than men. Coughing is a normal reflex where the body creates phlegm to eradicate irritants.

However, if you experience chronic cough, then it’s something your body can’t eliminate. Chat with your doctor to find the problem before it escalates to a severe condition. If you are curious, here are some common causes of persistent cough with phlegm.

Heart Failure

If the muscle of your heart weakens, it will not pump blood adequately. Blood can travel back to the lungs instead of the body. When that happens, the extra fluid will irritate the pulmonary system.

You will notice that your cough worsens when you lie down to sleep. This is your body’s way of getting rid of extra fluid. Your doctor will have to conduct an EKG and other imaging exams to diagnose you.

Drip Postnasal

Sometimes, you get dust or infections irritating your nasal membranes. Your body creates mucus that travels from your nose to your throat. This causes persistent coughing at night while you sleep.

The highest concentrations of cough receptors are in the airways and voice cords. If something gets in there, the first thing your body does is to cough it out.


When someone has asthma, the muscles around the airways contract, then the lining of the airways expands. After that, the cells in that location generate thick mucus, which causes chronic coughs.


Even if your cold, flu, or pneumonia has passed, your cough may persist. Nobody wants to hear this, but sometimes these residual coughs take longer to recover. After an infection, the lungs repair, and new cough receptors are formed.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory tract infection that often goes unnoticed. Although childhood vaccines protect against it, your resistance may wane as you mature. Adults may need a booster, and a blood test can determine the level of immunity.


This condition involves a weak ring of muscle around the bottom section of the esophagus. This allows stomach acid to regurgitate to the esophagus rather than to the stomach.

It does not have to be a big reflux at the back of your throat; it might just be acidic gasses. Those gasses continually flow out of your stomach and irritate your lungs.

Lung Cancer

The leading cause of lung cancer is smoking. However, some people have never smoked before and still get lung cancer.

If the diagnosis is lung cancer, the tumor’s location determines the cough rate. The lungs are composed of three components: tissue, airways, and circulation. Cough receptors are found only in the airways, which means growths in other areas of the lungs may not induce a cough.

When to Consult a Physician

A cough from an allergy or regular cold can persist for months. Everyone has had a cold when they couldn’t stop coughing at some time. Fortunately, the body will recover itself and return back to normal.

However, do not wait too long to inform your doctor of 

your condition. Call your doctor if you develop shortness of breath, fever, or blood. If you are unsure, there are ample sources online to learn more.

Get More Insights About Persistent Cough with Phlegm

From asthma to lung cancer, there are several common causes of chronic cough. Some etiologies are harmless, whereas others are more sinister. That is why it’s essential to see your doctor for an examination.

A lot of times, coughs are a normal way of eliminating pathogens. If you want to read more before seeing a physician, we can help. Check out our blog posts for more insights on persistent cough with phlegm. 

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