A chronic cough lasts for 8 weeks or longer. This type of cough often stems from conditions such as allergies or postnasal drip. Although coughing can be uncomfortable, it has a useful function. While coughing, it brings up mucus and foreign material from the airways that can irritate the lungs.
The coughing might have a big impact on life. It can keep the individual awake at night and becomes a distraction at work.
What are the causes?
The usual causes of chronic cough include the following:
- Asthma, particularly the cough-variant form that causes cough as the main symptom
- Postnasal drip
- Infections such as acute bronchitis or pneumonia
- Acid reflux or GERD
- Chronic bronchitis or other variants of COPD
- ACE inhibitors
What are the accompanying symptoms?
Along with chronic cough, it can be accompanied by other symptoms depending on the root cause.
The usual signs that are often present include:
- Sensation of liquid flowing down the rear part of the throat
- Hoarse voice
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Stuffed nose
- Shortness of breath
Management of chronic cough
The treatment for chronic cough is based on the root cause.
The drugs given to treat asthma include bronchodilators and inhaled steroids. These drugs reduce the swelling in the airways and widen the constricted air passages to allow better breathing.
Drugs to neutralize, lessen or block the production of acid are given. Some of these drugs are available over-the-counter while others require a prescription from a doctor.
If chronic cough is caused by an infection such as pneumonia, antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor.
Inhaled steroids and bronchodilators are given for this form of bronchitis.
Decongestants can be given to dry up the secretions. Antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays work by blocking the allergic response that triggers the production of mucus as well as reduce the swelling of the nasal passages.