Coughing isn’t usually a cause for concern. You have something stuck in your throat, you’ve caught that seasonal bug going around, or your allergies are irritating your lungs. Everyone has experienced a cough at some point, and usually, it will go away on its own after a few days or weeks. However, when your coughing persists for eight weeks or longer, your minor irritant has turned chronic, and you may have to take serious action. Here are a few reasons for that lingering cough and ways to find relief.
Blood pressure drugs
If you have high blood pressure or heart failure and have been prescribed a medication known as Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, you may experience chronic coughing.
Smoking irritates the lungs and reduces your body’s ability to remove chemicals and other foreign materials from your lings. This can lead to excessive dry coughing since your system has to work extra hard to clear the airway of toxins.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
GERD or acid reflux is a condition that causes stomach acid to flow back into your esophagus from your stomach. This common issue is usually characterized by heartburn; however, if you have a GERD-induced cough, you may have no other symptoms.
Lingering cold or infection
Though a cold or viral infection will usually run its course within a week or two, the irritation from it can last much longer. When your airways are swollen and oversensitive from an infection, they are more prone to damage and could take longer to return to normal. Keep in mind, stress can prolong a cold and could make your symptoms last longer. Try to relax, drink lots of water, and give your body time to heal.
If you have asthma, you probably know already and carry an inhaler in case of an emergency. Many people, however, may have undiagnosed asthma that they have never been treated for. If you have asthma, especially cough-variant asthma and still experience chronic coughing fits that aren’t alleviated by medication or if you suspect you may have asthma, see your doctor as soon as possible. The coughing is usually associated with shortness of breath, which could be a key factor in determining if you have asthma.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
This inflammatory lung disease includes bronchitis and emphysema, both of which obstruct airflow to the lungs. Bronchitis usually produces a chronic cough that brings up colored sputum, while emphysema brings shortness of breath and can damage the air sacs in the lungs. Former and current smokers are usually most likely to develop COPD since they already have compromised lungs.
Less common causes of a chronic cough:
Lung infections: If your cough is accompanied by a high fever, you may have a lung infection that needs treatment.
Environmental irritants: There are a number of things floating around in the air that can contribute to a chronic cough, including sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, dust, mold, and animal hair.
Lung cancer: Though extremely rare in nonsmokers, lung cancer could be to blame for a nagging cough.
Pertussis (whooping cough): Usually seen in children, whooping cough is a severe upper-respiratory-tract infection.
When to see the doctor
It is best not to mess around with a cough. If you experience a persistent cough for more than three weeks, or have any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
- Coughing up blood
- Night sweats
- Run a high fever
- Shortness of breath
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent chest pain
Before going to the doctor, try to pay careful attention to things that exacerbate your cough and take note of how long you’ve had it. This will help them diagnose the cause and come up with a comprehensive treatment plan.
When it comes to a chronic cough, it is vital to treat the cause, not the symptoms. The issue isn’t really the cough (though that is annoying) but the underlying health condition that is causing it. Take a spoonful of honey to help soothe your throat in the meantime and avoid chemical cough syrups that are full of sugar. You can also try natural lozenges to provide relief and decrease inflammation in your airway. Stop smoking if you are a tobacco user and see a doctor if you suspect asthma.
-The Alternative Daily