Chronic cough is a type of cough that persists over time. Chronic cough is mostly not a disease in itself, but is a symptom of an underlying condition.
A cough is a way your body responds when something irritates your throat or airways. An irritant stimulates the nerves that sends the message to your brain. The brain then tells the muscles in your chest and abdomen to push air out of your lungs so as to force out the irritant.
Chronic cough can be prevented by not smoking, managing medical problems such as asthma, GERD, postnasal drips and also getting vaccinated against whooping cough.
An occasional cough is said to be normal and healthy. But a cough that persists for several weeks or the one that brings up discolored or bloody mucus may indicate an underlying medical condition that needs immediate attention.
Sometimes, coughing can be very forceful, with the velocity of air from a vigorous cough approaching 500 miles an hour. A prolonged, vigorous cough can be exhausting, causing sleeplessness, headaches, urinary incontinence and even broken ribs.
Chronic cough is a common health problem and the reason for many doctor visits.
CAUSES OF A COUGH
An occasional cough might be normal, but a cough that persists may be a sign of a medical problem.
A cough can be considered “acute” when it lasts less than three weeks. It can be considered a chronic cough if it lasts more than eight weeks or four weeks in children.
Some causes of coughs include:
- Influenza (Flu)
- Common cold
- Whooping cough
- Asthma which is common in children
- Inhaling an irritant
- Postnasal drip
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Acute sinusitis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Cystic fibrosis
- Heart failure
- Lung cancer
- Respiratory syncytical virus (RSV)
- Neuromuscular diseases such as parkinsonism
Some Causes Of Chronic Cough Include:
- This is a disease of the airways, which result in difficulty in breathing, wheezing
- Hay fever
- Some medications
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Oesophageal reflux of the stomach content
- Medications such as ACE inhibitors
- Whooping cough
- Inhaling foreign objects into the lungs especially in children
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This refers to acid reflux or backward flow of stomach acid.
- Sinus problems
- Postnasal drip
- Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, with bronchitis as one of the most common causes of coughing up blood (hemoptysis).
- Certain tumors
- Congestive heart failure
Chronic cough is uncommon in children. Foreign material capable of obstructing the airways of the lungs, asthma, and allergies need to be evaluated by a pediatrician.
A productive cough produces phlegm or mucus. A productive cough should not be suppressed as it clears mucus from the lungs.
There Are Several Causes Of A Productive Cough, Such As:
- Viral illnesses
- Such as pneumonia, sinusitis, bronchitis or tuberculosis
- Chronic lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Nasal discharge (postnasal drip)
Causes Of A Non-Productive Cough Include:
- Viral illnesses
- Bronchospasm which is caused by irritation.
- Medicines called ACE inhibitors which are used to control high blood pressure (hypertension). Examples include captopril (Capoten), Enalapril, Maleate (Vasotec) and lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestoretic or Zestril).
- Being exposed to dust, fumes, and chemicals in a work environment.
- Blockage of the respiratory tract by an inhaled object, such as food or a pill. For more information.
SYMPTOMS OF A COUGH
Coughs have some distinctive traits you can learn to recognize. Remember that a cough is only a symptom of an underlying problem and not a disease, and usually, the importance of your cough can only be determined when other symptoms are evaluated.
After careful evaluation of your health, you may be able to identify other symptoms.
Some symptoms of cough include
- A sore throat
- Sinus pressure
- Ear pain
Call for help or visit the hospital if you experience the following symptoms
- Severe trouble in breathing
- If you are coughing up blood
- If you have a new or higher fever
- If you have a new rash
- If you cough more deeply or more often
- When you do not get better as expected.
- If you are coughing up thick, greenish-yellow phlegm
- If you are wheezing
- If you have difficulty in swallowing
PREVENTION OF A COUGH
There are no sure ways to prevent a cough. The following tips can help in reducing your risk:
- Washing your hands frequently especially during the cold and flu
- Avoiding contact with people who have a cold or influenza much as
- Quit smoking
- Avoiding any exposure to second-hand smoke
- Increasing your fluid intake
- Getting a flu shot (influenza vaccine) each year
- Getting a pneumococcal shot if you are age 65 or older
TREATMENT FOR A COUGH
Medicine for chronic cough is based on addressing the underlying cause. Some cough remedies that can be carried out at home include:
- Staying properly hydrated
- Gargling some warm salt water,
- Taking cough drops
- Taking honey
- Taking ginger
- Moisturizing the air
- Avoiding tobacco smoke
- Elevating your head with extra pillows at night to ease a dry cough.
- Avoiding exposure to inhaled irritants, such as smoke, dust, or other pollutants
- Taking cough suppressant
- Using an expectorant if you have a cough that produces thick mucus and you are having some difficulties in coughing the mucus up.