A chronic cough is more than just an inconvenience, it can affect many aspects of your life – from interfering with normal day-to-day activities to dramatically interrupting your sleep – leaving you feeling exhausted. A chronic cough can be caused by many factors, but primarily smoking, asthma, postnasal drip, and acid reflux are to blame.
The good news is that a chronic cough will usually improve once the underlying cause has been treated successfully; and this type of persistent, ongoing cough may be caused by more than one factor. It requires further investigation by a doctor to get to the underlying cause of the cough.
Symptoms of a Chronic Cough
There are two main types of cough. A dry cough is when the cough doesn’t produce any phlegm (thick mucus) and is often tickly and irritating. A chest cough is when phlegm is produced with the cough to help clear the airways.
A chronic cough can occur alongside other symptoms in adults, which may include:
- Frequent throat clearing
- A sore throat
- A stuffy or runny nose
- A feeling of liquid running down the back of the throat (postnasal drip)
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Heartburn or sour taste in the mouth
- Coughing up blood (in rare cases)
What Causes a Chronic Cough?
A chronic cough may be caused by a single factor or a combination of factors. Being a current or former smoker is one of the leading risk factors for developing a chronic cough, and frequent exposure to secondhand smoke can also cause a persistent cough and lung damage.
An asthma-related cough may come and go depending on the season, weather, or temperature. It may appear after an upper respiratory tract infection. The cough may also become worse when exposed to irritants such as chemicals or fragrances.
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is an inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow from the lungs. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which can cause a persistent cough that brings up colored sputum. COPD often results from a history of smoking.
Other causes of a chronic cough can include infection (such as pertussis, tuberculosis, pneumonia, flu, or an upper respiratory infection), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, and the use of blood pressure drugs.
Diagnosis and Treatment of a Persistent Cough
You should see your doctor if you are suffering with a chronic cough, especially if you are bringing up blood or sputum. Getting a second opinion from a pulmonary specialist after seeing your primary care doctor may also be recommended to get to the root cause of the cough in order to treat it successfully.
Treatment will depend primarily on the diagnosis, but it may include lifestyle changes and medications. Medications may include inhalers, antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, antibiotics, and cough suppressants. If you are a smoker, you will be strongly encouraged to quit with support from your healthcare team.
Pulmonary Medicine in Weatherford, TX
If you have a chronic cough that is having a negative impact on your life and your overall well-being, talk to the skilled healthcare providers at Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas. We focus on treating chronic conditions, including pulmonary and sleep disorders, allergies, and asthma, and we evaluate each patient on an individual basis to identify any and all conditions that may be affecting your respiratory health.
We utilize a holistic approach to pulmonary care to help you breathe better and feel better fast. For more information about the services we offer or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (817) 594-9993 or complete our easy-to-use online form now. We look forward to seeing you!