Coughing is one of the most common reasons why people go to their doctors. Although coughing is a temporary health condition, it can sometimes be a sign of a bigger problem, therefore it is recommended to check with your specialist if the problem persists. There can be several reasons behind persistent cough and the sooner you figure it out what it is, the better. In this article we will explore what can cause a persistent cough.
6 Most Common Reasons for Persistent Cough
It Might Be a Virus
If the cough persists for more than three weeks or less, it is a good possibility that it is caused by a cold virus. This is usually a dry cough with some clear mucus and might last for a month or even longer even if other cold symptoms are long gone. This might be due to a virus which irritates nerves which are in your windpipe. Therefore, the sensitivity of these nerves might lead to a persistent and long term cough.
How to treat common cold cough? Simply put – there are no remedies for viral infections to treat cough. In such case you will have to wait for it to go away. If you are dealing with a very strong cough and non-prescription medicine is not helping, go to your doctor for help. They will usually prescribe cough suppressant medicine.
If you have dry or wet persistent cough for 8 weeks or more, there is a chance that you have chronic rhinosinusitis. In such case, mucus in the sinuses go straight to the throat, tingling it and provoking cough. Although there are no exact way to diagnose it but there are symptoms which might help figuring it out. For example: blocked or runny nose, a need to expectorate, aching throat. These symptoms might be very similar to allergies.
How to treat it? If you do have chronic rhinosinusitis, you can try gargling your throat with salty water. Also, your physician might prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine.
Most importantly, pay attention to the color of the mucus. If they are green or yellow, it means that your body has to fight infection. In such case you will most likely need antibiotics.
Persistent Cough and Asthma
Symptoms like shortness of breath and wheezing is what usually gives away this condition. However, people who have persistent dry cough might be suffering from asthma.
Asthmatic cough intensifies at night time, during physical activities or after. Most usually, when you inhale cold air or allergens like pollen.
How to treat persistent cough with asthma? This is a case where you do have to go to your doctor for help. It is possible that you physician will prescribe you an inhaler to use for a couple of weeks just to see if these symptoms go away. In few cases medicine for allergies or other antihistamines help to treat persistent cough.
Acid Reflux and Persistent Cough
Gastroesophageal reflux disease is associated with 25 percent of all persistent coughing problems. It is not surprising that acid in esophagus irritates the nerve endings and causes persistent cough.
It is a challenge to diagnose acid reflux because not everyone who has GERD (Acid Reflux) feels burning pain in their chest because of the acid. If you start couching after a meal or when you lie down, during sleeping or early in the morning, there is a good chance you do have acid reflux.
How to treat persistent cough caused by acid reflux? Most of the time GERD is treatable by antacid medicine, also known as heartburn medicine. It might be very difficult to distinguish that acid reflux is the reason why you are having a persistent cough, therefore a visit to the doctor is recommended for diagnosis. Even if you start taking antacid medicine, the recovery might take 6 or 8 weeks until you start feeling better.
If you are overweight, losing a few pounds might ease the persistent cough from gastroesophageal reflux. Furthermore, make sure your sleeping pillow is a bit steeper so that your neck has a more bigger incline.
Pneumonia and Persistent Cough
Simple cold might not be the only reason for persistent cough. Sometimes, this condition might signal a more serious disease and one of them is pneumonia. Pneumonia develops when infection travels to the lungs. Most common symptoms include difficulty breathing, dry and sometimes wet cough which might be painful. If left untreated, this condition might become life threatening.
If you have persistent cough with green mucus or even blood, suffering from shortness of breath or have pain in your chest area, immediately go see your doctor. Fever and chills might be another indicator for pneumonia and in such case it is recommended to call the ambulance.
How to treat pneumonia?
Pneumonia is usually detected by x-ray. However, most doctors are able to diagnose by listening to your lungs with a stethoscope. Most difficult cases of pneumonia are treated by antibiotics.
Pertussis and Persistent Cough
Persistent cough might be caused by a disease that man kind fought off years ago and it is pertussis. When suffering from pertussis, coughing is so intense that a patient might end up gasping for air after coughing spasms stop. Usually people are vaccinated against this disease, however, as years go by, the effects of the vaccine diminishes.
Pertussis is treated with antibiotics and during treatment which might take up to three weeks the symptoms of persistent cough can be reduced. Pertussis is especially dangerous in infants and might cause death.
Other Reasons for Persistent Cough
If the persistent cough is not linked to 6 most common reasons mentioned above, the doctor might do additional tests to diagnose the reason for it. Usually that involves checking sinuses, x-raying lungs or performing a CT scan. These tests can help identify other reasons for persistent cough like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or lung cancer.
Allergies might be another reason for persistent cough If it appears only in certain places. Furthermore, sensitivity to certain irritants like air pollution, smoke, mould might be the reason for persistent cough. Also, persistent dry cough might occur if you take certain medicines like ACE inhibitors.