What is Chronic Cough?
A chronic cough is defined as an irritation of the respiratory system that causes a nagging, persistent cough that lasts for more than 8 weeks. Chronic coughing can cause chest pain, difficulty breathing, sore throat, and fatigue.
Causes of Chronic Cough
There are many possible causes of chronic cough, and certain conditions can make chronic coughing worse. Common causes of a chronic cough include:
- Asthma. Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by the narrowing of the airways, which causes a feeling of tightness in the chest or difficulty breathing. It can also cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
- Infections. Upper and lower respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, can cause inflammation of the airways, which can lead to chronic coughing.
- Allergies. Allergies to pollen, dust, mites, pet dander, and other environmental allergens can cause a chronic cough in some individuals.
- Cigarette smoke. Exposure to cigarette smoke can irritate the lungs, leading to a chronic cough.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat. This can lead to a persistent, dry coughing.
- Heartburn. Heartburn is caused by stomach acid flowing back up into the esophagus. It can cause a burning sensation in the chest and throat that may lead to a chronic cough.
Symptoms of Chronic Cough
The most common symptom of chronic coughing is the presence of a persistent, irritating cough. Other symptoms may include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Hoarseness in the voice
- Excessive mucus production
Treatment for Chronic Cough
Treatment for a chronic cough will depend on the underlying cause. Some of the most common treatments for chronic cough include:
- Bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are medications that help to open up the airways, making it easier to breathe. They are sometimes used to treat asthma and other conditions that cause chronic coughing.
- Antihistamines. Antihistamines can help to reduce inflammation and reduce the amount of mucus produced in the airways. They are commonly used to treat allergies, which can worsen a chronic cough.
- Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that can help reduce the inflammation caused by the underlying cause of a chronic cough.
- Nasal sprays. Nasal sprays can help to reduce inflammation in the nasal and sinus passages, which may reduce the severity of a chronic cough.
Prevention and Health
To prevent chronic coughing and its associated symptoms, it is important to keep up with regular preventive health care, such as getting the flu vaccine and having regular check-ups with your doctor. Also, it is important to avoid exposure to cigarette smoke and irritants such as dust and pet dander. Additionally, if you suffer from GERD or heartburn, it is important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan to reduce the severity of your symptoms.