Chronic cough can indicate serious underlying issues, disrupt your quality of life and result in other complications. At Silver Falls Dermatology, our providers can take steps to diagnose the underlying cause and determine an appropriate treatment plan for chronic cough.
What is Chronic Cough?
Chronic cough is defined as a cough which lasts longer than eight weeks for adults or four weeks for children. The condition can cause a range of related symptoms including loss of sleep or injury due to frequent and persistent coughing. For many patients, it can be difficult to determine the cause of a chronic cough and, therefore, difficult to treat without the help of a medical professional.
What Causes Chronic Cough?
Chronic cough may be caused by a range of triggering conditions or underlying sources. In most cases of chronic cough, the condition is caused by a combination of triggers. Some common causes for chronic cough include:
- Postnasal drip or upper airway cough syndrome (UACS)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Infections including pneumonia, flu, the common cold, pertussis (whooping cough) or tuberculosis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Blood pressure medication
In less common cases, chronic cough can also be caused by:
- Aspiration of food or foreign bodies
- Cystic fibrosis
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux
- Lung cancer
- Nonasthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
In addition to these triggers, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke is a common risk factor for chronic cough.
Chronic Cough Symptoms
While a persistent cough is the primary symptom, chronic cough (or underlying conditions) may also cause other complications. These can include:
- Runny nose or congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Disrupted sleep
- Coughing up blood
Chronic Cough Treatments
Several treatment options are available to resolve chronic cough. Most treatments involve addressing the underlying condition for chronic cough. This can include:
- Antihistamines, corticosteroids or decongestants to treat allergies or postnasal drip
- Asthma medications such as inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators
- Antibiotics to treat infections
- Acid blockers to resolve acid reflux
In addition to these treatment options, your provider may recommend cough suppressants, which may include over the counter or prescription options. Finally, your recommender may also recommend lifestyle changes such as using a humidifier, drinking fluids or quitting smoking/avoiding secondhand smoke.