There are many common causes of uncontrollable coughing. Some are contagious, long-term or serious, while others aren't. Serious cases of uncontrollable or chronic coughing should be checked by professional medical personnel. Some common causes of intractable coughing include allergies, lung conditions, medications, gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma, bronchitis and bacterial infection.
Although a virus causes colds, having a cold often allows bacteria to enter the throat, which may cause coughing for at least a few days. Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that can cause such violent, uncontrollable coughing that a distinctive "whoop" sound is often made at the back of the throat from trying to catch a breath. Sometimes, vomiting or choking may result. Babies and children are especially prone to developing whooping cough.
Bronchitis is a common cause of sudden, chronic coughing fits. The bronchial tubes in the chest become inflamed. Many smokers have this problem, as smoke inflames the airway and causes mucus to be stored there; the coughing helps clear the congestion. Asthma is another cause of intractable coughing. It affects both adults and children and may result in a wheezing type of cough and difficulty breathing.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) produces stomach acid that backs up into the esophagus. Chronic coughing usually occurs to help try to keep the acid down. It typically irritates the throat as well as leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
Some medications, most notably those for high blood pressure and heart disease, can cause coughing as a side effect. Lung disease usually fills the lungs with fluid. This may cause coughing fits as the body tries to clear breathing pathways.
Seasonal allergies such as hay fever are known to cause uncontrollable coughing. Pollen or other irritants inflame the airway and may block sinuses. When sinuses become blocked, a post nasal drip may result. This dripping may lead to a slight scratchy sort of feeling in the throat that could lead to bouts of coughing to try to relieve it. This type of tickling cough is common in cases of postnasal drip.
Some uncontrollable coughing can make it difficult for people to breathe properly, eat or speak. Medical help should be sought in these cases. A pulmonologist is a doctor who specializes in treating and studying the causes and symptoms of coughs. It's important to seek medical treatment immediately for common causes of coughs that might be contagious so as not to spread them to others.