What is chronic cough and what to do about it

What kind of cough is considered chronic

A chronic cough is called a cough that does not go away for more than 8 weeks, and if we are talking about a child – more than 4 weeks.

Why Chronic Cough Occurs

Cough is not a single disease, but is always a symptom of another disease or a side effect of certain medications. In 90% of cases, chronic cough is caused by postnasal drip, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, but there are other causes.

1. Post-nasal drip

This is the name given to the condition when the mucus from the nose flows down the throat and irritates it. This usually happens when a person with a cold or allergic rhinitis or sinusitis lies for a long time, for example, sleeps. A person does not always feel tickling, sometimes he just starts to cough.

What to do

The treatment of the disease that caused the runny nose will help here. To relieve the symptoms, you need to maintain a high humidity in the room, then the mucus will not be as thick, which means that there will be less irritation. You can also try sleeping on raised pillows so that it does not stagnate.

2. Asthma

It is the leading cause of chronic cough in children. There may also be shortness of breath or wheezing, but sometimes coughing is the only symptom.

It can be seasonal, especially during the cold season, it can be aggravated after physical exertion or inhalation of some vapors or odors.

What to do

Asthma is a chronic disease that will progress and significantly reduce quality of life if left unchecked. Therefore, you need to contact a therapist or pediatrician if the child has symptoms.

3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease

If heartburn occurs frequently, it may be due to gastroesophageal reflux disease, when stomach contents back up into the esophagus. During sleep, it is easier for acid to get to the throat and ligaments, so hoarseness and cough appear in the morning.

What to do

You can protect yourself from occasional heartburn by cutting out fatty foods, coffee, chocolate, mint, and some other foods, and by not going to bed immediately after eating. With constant heartburn and cough, you need to contact a gastroenterologist to prescribe treatment.

4. Taking certain medicines for high blood pressure

Cough is a common side effect of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. This group includes :

  • enalapril;
  • fosinopril;
  • peridopril;
  • captopril and others.

What to do

If a cough appears after the start of taking them, you need to consult your doctor. You may need to change therapy.

5. Respiratory tract infection

A cold can take a long time, up to several months. Sometimes the next ARVI is simply superimposed on one, and sometimes a bacterial infection joins a viral infection.

Coughing can cause not only post-nasal drip, but also irritation of the respiratory tract due to infection.

What to do

If the cold gradually disappears, just a cough remains, then it’s okay. It is much worse if the temperature rises again and yellow-green sputum appears – these are signs of a bacterial infection. This may require antibiotics. So see a doctor.

6. Chronic bronchitis

With it, the airways become inflamed, their lumen narrows, and there is more mucus. A cough is needed to clear them.

Chronic bronchitis is most common in smokers and leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease when the lungs lose their elasticity.

What to do

If you suspect that you have chronic bronchitis, see a physician. Well, don’t smoke or quit right now.

7. Bronchiectasis of the lungs

Bronchiectasis is an expansion of the walls of the bronchi in the form of sacs. They remain after severe infections such as pneumonia or whooping cough, after a fungal disease of aspergillosis, and sometimes form for no apparent reason.

Sputum stagnates in them, so infections in such patients occur much more often than others.

What to do

To detect bronchiectasis, you need to take an x-ray of the lungs. So, if you have a chronic cough, make an appointment with a therapist to schedule an examination.

8. Tumor in the lungs

It can cause a cough, but very few people with a cough have swelling. The sharply changed nature of the smoker’s cough, blood or lack of improvement a month after quitting cigarettes should alert.

What to do

The mass can be seen even on a radiograph, but a more thorough examination is often needed. The therapist can refer to an oncologist who will prescribe studies.

9. Eosinophilic bronchitis

This is a very rare disease. It resembles asthma and chronic bronchitis, but there are also differences: there are no changes in the x-ray of the lungs, the functional parameters of breathing do not change.

Usually it is put after the exclusion of all other causes.

What to do

If eosinophilic bronchitis is left untreated, permanent damage and even asthma can occur. Therefore, with a chronic cough, it is better to be examined by a doctor.

What tests may be needed if you have a chronic cough

To find out the cause, the doctor will ask about the symptoms and conduct an examination. Often, after the examination, other studies are needed .

  1. Fluorogram, radiograph or tomography of the lungs . They will allow you to see what the lungs look like, recognize signs of bronchitis, bronchiectasis and tumors.
  2. Functional Tests . They are needed if you suspect asthma. The patient exhales into a special device – a spirometer, which determines the volume of the lungs, the rate of exhalation and other parameters.
  3. Acid reflux test or gastroscopy . These studies are prescribed by a gastroenterologist. They can measure the acidity in the esophagus and assess whether there are reasons for the reflux of stomach contents, such as weakness of the sphincter, a circular muscle that separates these organs.

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