Chronic cough can be irritating at some point of time. It ruins the sleep of the sufferer and makes him /her exhausted to the core. It can also lead to fever, depression, heart palpitations, or lightheadedness. Severe cough can also cause rib fractures rarely.

Causes Chronic Cough

How Long Does a Typical Cough Last?

Generally occurring occasional cough lasts for a period of maximum 7 to 9 days. However if the cough is chronic it can last up to 8 weeks or even more. In children it lasts for about 4 weeks.

What Causes Chronic Cough All the Time?

Tobacco, asthma, acid reflux or postnasal drip is the common reasons of chronic cough in a person. As the acid backflows from the stomach, it causes irritation in the throat. Proper treatment can help a person recover from chronic cough soon. Below mentioned are the major causes or reasons of chronic cough. Cough secretion protects the lungs from foreign particles. There are several reasons of a chronic cough in any person. The prime causes are discussed below:

  • Chronic Cough Caused Due to Postnasal drip: The excess mucus produced by nose or sinus usually has a tendency to drip down towards the throat and causes cough. This syndrome is also called as the upper airway cough and this can lead to chronic cough.
  • Chronic Cough Caused Due to Asthma: Asthma or any sort of other infection in the lungs due any chemical smell or strong fragrance or even cold can cause cough. Cough variant asthma is the major indication of this chronic cough.
  • Chronic Cough Caused Due to Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD): The coughing, in turn, worsens GERD which is a vicious cycle. Chronic cough can occur when the stomach acid runs back to the throat through the esophagus.

As per research these three are the major reasons which causes chronic cough in a person. Any of these three or a combination of any two or even three of them causes severe cough in a person.

Other Causes of Chronic Cough

  • Excessive accumulation of cough in the chest causes influenza, pneumonia and much other infection to the lungs. Whooping cough or Pertussis is an unusual symptom seen mostly in adults.
  • Too much consumption of blood pressure drugs with Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can lead to severe cough which may even cause heart failure in some cases.
  • People with heavy smoking habits fall prey to chronic bronchitis which causes congestion in their bronchial tubes. This results in chronic cough, breathlessness and wheezing. People who have quit smoking also can be attacked by chronic cough.

Other Lesser Possible Causes of Chronic Cough

  • Bronchiectasis
  • Aspiration
  • Chronic bronchitis from any other infectious disease.
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Foreign body aspiration in children.
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux.
  • Nonasthmaticeosinophilic bronchitis.
  • Lung cancer
  • Sarcoidosis.

Can Chronic Cough Originate from Other Body Allergies?

External particles in the throat also causes cough due to certain allergies. The mucus prevents any particle to infect the lungs and accumulation of such particles creates an irritation sensation.

What Triggers the Occurrence of Chronic Cough During Night?

Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) in a person causes the automatic pool of the mucus causing severe cough. If the pillow is slightly propped up, then this problem can be avoided due to elevation. Also, dry environment causes dryness in the throat. Lack of proper humidity creates trouble in normal breathing.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Cough?

The following signs and symptoms or indications which are seen in chronic cough:

  • Mucus stuffed nose or maybe even a running nose.
  • Back flow of mucus in the throat from the nose.
  • Sore throat or tendencies of throat clearing are one of the symptoms of chronic cough.
  • Hoarseness in voice.
  • Trouble in normal breathing.
  • Acidity causing heartburn.
  • Coughing up blood, in some serious conditions.

What are the Factors of Risk for Chronic Cough?

Cigarette or other addictive smokers have high risks of getting affected with chronic cough. Passive smoking in people also raises chance of developing chronic cough tendencies. This damages the lungs and causes severe infection leading to chronic cough.

Women are more prone to chronic cough as they remain more sensitive towards the reflexes of the cough.

What Causes Complications in Chronic Cough?

Cough brings a lot other problems with it. Below mentioned are the complications of chronic cough:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Too much of sweating
  • Incontinence in urine
  • Rib fracture due to excessive coughing.

What Tests are Conducted to Diagnose Chronic Cough?

Several physical examinations are available to diagnose the chronic cough in a person. The medical condition of the person also has a part to play. It helps determining the current condition of the sufferer and ultimately a treatment plan is prepared for chronic cough.

An effective treatment plan has to be checked out for proper recovery from chronic cough. The common causes of the disease are tested by doctors physically and thus the treatment is planned.

  1. Imaging Tests to Determine the Level of Chronic Cough

    The infections of asthma, acid reflux or postnasal drip can be determined by X-ray tests. This test is carried out in serious cases where the infection could lead to cancer. Imaging tests are done to determine occurrence of pneumonia in a person. Sinus imaging is also effective in determining sinus infection in a person.

    CT scan or Computerized Tomography is helpful in checking the sinus cavities during an infection.

  2. Chronic Cough Tests to Detect Proper Lung Functioning

    The noninvasive tests determine the quantity of air blown in the lungs during the breathing process. Usually asthma is diagnosed in such tests. Methacholine or Provo choline is inhaled in such tests to check the functionality of the lungs.

  3. Lab Tests for Chronic Cough

    In case the mucus in found to be of abnormal color, the doctor may ask for a lab test for chronic cough to check the presence of bacterial infection in it.

  4. Scope Tests to Diagnose Chronic Cough

    Special medical tests are prescribed when the doctor is not able to find the exact reason of the chronic cough. This happens in very rare cases. A tube is fitted with a light and camera and inserted within the body through trachea. Trachea is the windpipe of the body. A biopsy test may also be prescribed in case there are any abnormalities detected in the cells.

  5. Tests to Diagnose Chronic Cough in Children

    In case of children a spirometry test or a chest X-ray is done to determine the presence of chronic cough.

How is Chronic Cough Treated?

Detection of the right cause of the infection is the first step of treatment for chronic cough. The exact reason has to be found out first. Depending on that the treatment is planned by your doctor.

Angiotensin-receptor blocker is chosen over angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor during chronic cough medication as it does not have much of a side effect. (If you are already using it.)

Other medications for treating chronic cough include:

  • Antihistamines and decongestants drugs are used in the treatment of various allergies and symptoms of postnasal drip.
  • Asthma drugs are inhaled to reduce the inflammation in the affected regions of the body. It is beneficial to widen the nasal airways and reduce chronic cough.
  • Antibiotics are prescribed to get relief from the infections of chronic cough.
  • Acid blockers are prescribed to obstruct the production of acid in the body. Thus the acid reflux can be controlled.
  • Cough suppressants are prescribed to people who have sleepless nights due to extreme cough attacks. This drug is harmful for children. It should be consumed with lukewarm water and honey to melt the accumulated sputum in the chest. The drug should never be given to infants and children below the age of 1 year.

Children are treated with much smoother drugs in case of a chronic cough. Harsh drugs may be harmful for them and cause other infections in the lungs or chest.

Lifestyle Changes to Help Stop Chronic Cough

Certain changes in the lifestyle can bring better results and speedy recovery from chronic cough. The allergy symptoms can largely be controlled and thus a healthy life can be achieved. These are:

  • Nasal allergies can be controlled by avoiding the external substances (allergens) to enter the nose. (Make a note of all the allergens by observations, and avoid them.)
  • Smoking is one devastating habit which originates chronic bronchitis and irritation in the lungs. It is the major reason of lungs infections and causes fatal tumors in the lungs and should be avoided. Even the passive smoking should be seriously avoided.
  • Reduction in acid reflux by eating in small intervals can be helpful. Special pillows should be used during this time. Big pillows should be used for better elevation. Thus comparatively peaceful sleeps can be achieved.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Chronic Cough

The below mentioned home remedies are highly recommended to get rid of chronic cough:

  1. Honey is a Useful Home Remedy to Get Rid of Chronic Cough: Honey is a good demulcent that coats the mucus membrane. Thus the irritation can be controlled to a great extent. Honey contains antibacterial properties and fights bacterial illness. This is a good element for the children due to the sweet taste and zero side effects. Children can easily take honey on a regular basis (every night).
  2. Simple Home Remedy to get Rid of Chronic Cough Using Licorice Tea: Licorice is a brilliant expectorant and reduces the throat irritation. Glycyrrhizin present in it helps the cough to pump out from the chest. Glycyrrhizin has excellent quality to release the accumulated mucus in the chest. Several cough attacks can bring out the excess mucus and relieves the chest pain. Tea made with Licorice is a simple home remedy and a fast recovery option to help get rid of chronic cough.
  3. Salt Water Gargle is the Best Home Remedy to Get Rid of Congested Cough from the Chest: Gargling with salt water releases the mucus and it comes out of the throat. Irritation in the vocal tunnel can be largely controlled by it. The affected tissues are calmed by salt water gargle. Slightly warm water is taken for it which can be touched easily by hand. Check the temperature of the water before putting it in to the throat. Salt provides relief to the throat tissues and soothes it thus relieving chronic cough.
  4. Hot steam is Another Best Home Remedy to Get Rid of Chronic Cough: The accumulated cough gets loose and melts with the hot steam. Thus it becomes easy to pump it out. The melted mucus has an automatic tendency to flow out of the throat during cough. As the excess mucus flows out of the chest, the infections are soothed inside the body. The restless tissues also get relief due to the hot steam flow inside the trachea.
  5. Home Remedy Using Honey and Pepper Combination for Chronic Cough: Honey and pepper is a good combination to get rid of the accumulated mucus in the chest. Black pepper has a tickling effect in the nose and thus it is helpful in opening up the congestion created due to chronic cough. Grinded black pepper when mixed with honey forms excellent syrup for sufferers of chronic cough. This syrup should be consumed regularly by people suffering from chronic cough problems. A regular intake forms a protective layer on the lungs and guards it from the external dust and dirt. Thus the lungs remain protected from the external particles and are a good irritation reliever.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: November 9, 2015

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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