What is a Chronic cough and what does it mean?

Chronic cough persists over a long period of time. Cough that lasts for more than eight weeks in adults and four weeks in children can be defined as chronic. It can be a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. Acute cases can lead to depression, vomiting, light headedness and even rib fractures. Only a doctor can detect the underlying problem after examining your body and conducting tests.

A chronic cough is usually accompanied by other signs and symptoms, these include:

  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat and the frequent throat clearing
  • Regular sour taste in mouth
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • In extreme cases, coughing up blood

When should you visit a doctor?
It’s time to take an appointment when your chronic cough persists for a long time and does not seem to respond to antibiotics. If you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms along with an interrupted sleeping pattern then wait no more and visit your doctor today.

A chronic cough can be signalling an underlying disease and a delay in getting the right treatment will only cause more harm in the long run. A long persistent chronic cough can be due to one or more of the following.

One of the most common cause of chronic cough is cigarette smoking.

Asthma causes difficulty in breathing and is a long term disease. Sometimes the only symptom that most asthma patients experience is chronic cough. An asthma related cough may get aggravated due to an infection or when they come in contact with cold air, some chemicals or fragrances. One can determine whether their cough is a result of allergies or asthma by keeping a track of it. If it magically stops in certain environments or gets worse in other and you’re unable to predict the cause, it’s best to visit a doctor. The doctor may recommend blood tests and a few others to determine the possible cause of your cough.

Postnasal drip
Postnasal drip and sinuses can also cause chronic cough accompanied by mucus. This mucus drips down at the back of your throat causing cough reflexes. Also known as upper airway cough syndrome, this condition cannot be easily detected. The patient may have to undergo a CT scan of the sinuses to diagnose the problem. Frequent clearing of the throat and a tickling sensation in the throat are a sign of this condition.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Another common cause of chronic cough is Gastroesophageal reflux disease. Here the acids from the stomach flow back through the oesophagus tube into the throat. This causes irritation, shortness of breath and coughing.

Other causes:
Chronic bronchitis
Inflammation of the airways or the bronchial tubes can cause congestion, wheezing, breathlessness and a cough that brings out discoloured sputum. Apart from coughing and chest pain, bronchitis can also be accompanied with aches, chills, fever and sore throat. Although the accompanied symptoms may disappear after some time, the cough will persist for several weeks.

Certain drugs
ACE inhibitors or drugs that are taken to bring blood pressure under control can sometimes also cause chronic cough. However, your doctor will the best person to decide the cause of your chronic cough, therefore do not discontinue the intake of any medicine without your doctor’s permission.

Infections of the upper respiratory tract such as pneumonia, cold, influenza can cause a chronic cough. Fungus, viruses and bacteria can be the major cause behind these infections.

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