Infections: Cough might persist even after other signs of cold, influenza, pneumonia or other upper respiratory tract have subsided. Rarely, whooping cough (pertussis) can cause chronic cough in adults.
Blood pressure drugs: A class of drugs used for lowering blood pressure, called Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, can cause persistent dry cough.
Chronic bronchitis: Chronic bronchitis is associated with congestion, breathlessness, wheezing and cough producing discolored sputum. Chronic bronchitis is closely linked to smoking.
The less common causes of chronic cough include:
Aspiration: breathing in foreign objects
Bronchiectasis: Permanent damage and enlargement of airway in the lungs
Sarcoidosis: An inflammatory disease that affects various systems in the body
4 Making a Diagnosis
Several tests are used to diagnose the hidden cause of chronic cough.
You doctor may refer you to a specialist in lung diseases (pulmonologist).
How to prepare yourself for the visit
Getting prepared for the visit can optimize the therapy and help make the visit more fruitful.
List out all the symptoms.
Write down your key medical information.
Write down the names of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.
Make a list of the questions to ask your doctor.
Some typical questions can be:
What could be probable cause of my cough?
What are the tests that I need?
What are the treatment options?
How long will it take for me to recover?
What your doctor wants to know
A clear talk with your doctor can optimize the therapy and improve the outcomes. Prepare yourself to answer some essential questions from your doctor. Your doctor might ask you typical questions like:
When did you start experiencing the symptoms?
Do you smoke or have smoked in the past?
Are you exposed to second hand smoke during stay at home or at office?
Do you feel burning sensations in your chest?
Do you cough up sputum? If yes, mention its color.
Are you on any pressure lowering medication? If yes, specify the type.
Is your cough more prominent at any specific period of time such as after meals or at night?
Do you feel breathing problems during exertion or when exposed to cold air?
Your doctor can recommend one or more of the diagnostic tests to determine the hidden cause of your symptoms.
Imaging tests available are:
X-rays: An X-ray can reveal the most common reasons of chronic cough such as postnasal drip, acid reflux or asthma. It also helps to exclude other causes like lung cancer, pneumonia and sinus infection.
Computerized tomography (CT) scans: Evidence of sinus infections may show up in CT Scan results.
Lung function tests (LFT): LFT is a simple, noninvasive test performed to determine how well your lungs inhale and exhale air. LFT can be used to confirm diagnosis of asthma. In some cases, your doctor can give you a drug to inhale (methacholine) and test you for improvement in breathing.
Lab tests: Sputum samples can be tested to detect presence of specific bacteria.
Once the cause of chronic cough is established, treatment approach can be selected.
Medications used to treat chronic cough may include:
Antihistamines and decongestants: These agents treat the symptoms of allergy and help to allow easy flow of air through nose.
Inhaled asthma drugs: If asthma is the cause of chronic cough, you doctor may recommend inhaled anti-asthmatic medications to inflammation and facilitate air flow.
Antibiotics: Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections that have caused chronic cough.
Acid blockers: Acid reflux can be controlled by using medications that block acid production.
Cough suppressants: A cough suppressant is used to reduce cough reflex. However, it has not been explained if they are useful or not. Use of cough suppressants in children is not recommended.
Home Remedy: Dissolve a teaspoon (5 grams) of honey in warm water and take it as hot as possible. It may help to loosen up sputum. It is not recommended for the children under one year of age.
Exercise caution while using drugs in children because non-specific cough in most children may not respond to these treatments.
6 Lifestyle and Coping
Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with chronic cough.
Here are some ways that might prevent or minimize your chronic cough:
Avoid allergens: Avoid any known factor that might cause allergies, for example dust.
Quit smoking: Give up smoking right now to prevent or slow down the health effects of tobacco use.
Reduce acid reflux: Life style modifications can prevent the regurgitation of acidic stomach contents. You may try simple changes like not lying down immediately after a meal.
7 Risks and Complications
There are several risks and complications associated with chronic cough.
Smoking and history of smoking
Passive smoking or secondhand smoke
Gender: Women are at a greater risk of developing chronic cough
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