What are the possible causes and remedies for severe coughing fits?

Symptom Database

Severe coughing fits can be incredibly disruptive and uncomfortable, often leaving individuals searching for relief. Whether it’s a persistent cough, chronic cough, or a sudden onset of severe coughing fits, understanding the causes and remedies can help alleviate the symptoms and provide much-needed relief. In this article, we will explore the possible causes and remedies for severe coughing fits, offering valuable insights and tips for managing this troublesome symptom.

Understanding Severe Coughing Fits

Before delving into the causes and remedies, it’s important to understand what constitutes a severe coughing fit. A severe cough is characterized by intense and uncontrollable coughing episodes that can last for an extended period. These fits can be accompanied by various symptoms, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Excessive mucus production
  • Sore throat

Severe coughing fits can significantly impact daily life, making it difficult to perform routine tasks or get a good night’s sleep. Identifying the underlying causes is crucial in finding effective treatment and relief.

Possible Causes of Severe Coughing Fits

Allergies and Asthma

Allergies and asthma are common culprits behind severe coughing fits. Allergic reactions to environmental triggers, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander, can lead to excessive coughing. Similarly, asthma, a chronic respiratory condition, can cause severe coughing fits due to inflammation and narrowing of the airways.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections, such as the common cold, flu, or bronchitis, can trigger severe coughing fits. These infections irritate the airways, leading to excessive coughing as the body tries to expel mucus and foreign particles.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD, a condition characterized by acid reflux, can also contribute to severe coughing fits. When stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, it can irritate the throat and trigger coughing.

Postnasal Drip

Postnasal drip occurs when excess mucus drips down the back of the throat, leading to irritation and coughing. This condition is often caused by allergies, sinus infections, or colds.

Remedies for Severe Coughing Fits

Identify and Avoid Triggers

If allergies or asthma are the underlying causes of severe coughing fits, identifying and avoiding triggers is essential. This may involve minimizing exposure to allergens, such as pollen or pet dander, or using air purifiers to improve indoor air quality.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines or decongestants, can provide temporary relief from severe coughing fits caused by allergies or respiratory infections. These medications help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.

Prescription Medications

In cases where severe coughing fits are persistent or chronic, prescription medications may be necessary. Asthma inhalers, corticosteroids, or antacids for GERD can help manage symptoms and provide long-term relief.

Home Remedies

Several home remedies can help alleviate severe coughing fits. These include:

  • Drinking warm fluids, such as herbal tea or warm water with honey, to soothe the throat
  • Using a humidifier or taking steamy showers to moisturize the airways
  • Gargling with saltwater to reduce throat irritation
  • Avoiding irritants, such as smoke or strong odors, that can trigger coughing

Seeking Medical Advice

If severe coughing fits persist despite trying various remedies, it is crucial to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can evaluate the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment options.


Severe coughing fits can be distressing, but understanding the causes and remedies can help manage this troublesome symptom. Whether it’s allergies, respiratory infections, GERD, or postnasal drip, identifying the underlying cause is crucial in finding effective treatment. From avoiding triggers and using over-the-counter medications to seeking medical advice and trying home remedies, there are various approaches to alleviate severe coughing fits. By taking proactive steps and seeking appropriate treatment, individuals can find relief and improve their quality of life.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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