Coughing spasms occur as a result of bacterial and viral infections such as the common cold, pneumonia, flu, whooping cough and tuberculosis, according to Healthgrades. They can also result from conditions such as allergies, smoking, asthma and pulmonary edema. Diseases such as lung cancer, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases may also cause coughing spasms.
Because coughing spasms may result from a life-threatening underlying condition, it is advisable for an individual to seek immediate medical care when coughing spasms appear in order to receive early diagnosis and treatment of the cause, notes Healthgrades. This may prevent complications such as fatigue, respiratory failure, dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting, and difficulty sleeping. Hypoxemia, a condition in which the amount of oxygen in the blood is lower than normal; fainting; and rib cracking are other complications that may result from coughing spasms. To diagnose the cause of coughing spasms, a doctor may want to know when the patient began experiencing the condition, things that trigger the condition and other symptoms that accompany the condition. Treatment depends on the underlying condition.
A coughing spasm is a prolonged coughing, which usually lasts more than five minutes, and may be accompanied with difficulty breathing and difficulty talking, states Healthgrades. Nausea, wheezing, nasal congestion, lymph node inflammation and hoarse voice may also accompany coughing spasms.