It's that time of year, you know. I start to cough because my throat is easily irritated by the extremely dry air we get up north during the winter. I hate having to cough all the time because the people in line at the grocery store give me disgusted looks, but I can't help it! No one likes a persistent cough, or the itchiness and pain that often come with a cough. So what causes a cough? It can be any number of things, really. Colds, the flu, bronchitis, smoking, allergies, dry air, acid reflux, emphysema, asthma: these are all possible causes of a cough or chronic coughs, and that's just a short list. The treatment of a cough really does depend on why you're coughing.
Call it a nose infection, a sinus infection, the sniffles, mucus: what ever you choose to call it, a stuffy nose can be caused by any number of illnesses, but there are two possibilities you should keep in mind: bacterial sinusitis and fungal sinusitis. Sinusitis is a general term for a sinus infection; though, as of late, the term is being used to describe a long term sinus infection, something you might not even know you had—or maybe you always did, and didn't want to bother your doctor with something as trivial as a stuffy nose.
I suppose being diagnosed with asthma at the age of 23 falls into the category of "better late than never," but it makes me grateful I never passed out during a game of Red Rover, Red Rover. Because asthma—especially uncontrolled or improperly controlled asthma—can be a dangerous thing. People with asthma have chronically inflamed bronchial tubes in their lungs, which makes irritants in the air extra irritating. When irritants enter an asthmatic's lungs, muscles in the bronchial tubes contract and the lungs produce more mucus. This excess mucus clogs the already tightened space in the bronchial tubes, and since those same tubes are air's route in and out of the lungs, breathing becomes problematic.