Medical News Today: Types of coughs: What do they mean?

People might describe a wet cough as a chesty cough. This cough occurs when a person coughs up mucus or phlegm. Wet coughs are typically due to an infection, such as the flu, the common cold, or a chest infection.

A person with a chest infection may cough up phlegm that contains small amounts of bright red blood. This blood comes from the lungs and is typically nothing to worry about.

If a person finds themselves coughing up blood that is dark and contains food, or what resembles coffee grounds, they should seek medical help.

Some wet coughs can be chronic and may be due to:

  • Bronchiectasis: A condition resulting from mucus pools in small pouches in the lungs that the body is unable to clear.
  • Pneumonia: This is when a bacterial infection causes the tissue on the lungs to become inflamed.
  • Nontuberculous mycobacteria infection: This is noncontagious and can be accompanied by tiredness, feeling unwell, and weight loss.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): This is a type of lung disease where common symptoms may include shortness of breath and wheezing.


Staying hydrated can help a wet cough stay productive and ease the symptoms of a cold. Some people also find relief from over-the-counter (OTC) cough remedies, such as cough drops, chest rubs, and pain relievers.

If a bacterial infection is causing the cough, a person may need antibiotics.

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