Chronic cough is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. Chronic cough is a common problem. Only a doctor can tell for sure the cause a chronic cough. In a 2006 study of women who had a cough lasting for six months, 39% were found to have asthma, 9% had chronic upper airway cough syndrome (commonly known as postnasal drip), and 9% had gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). In addition, another 11% had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious, progressive disease that includes both emphysema and bronchitis.
In children, more than 12 million visits to the Pediatrician are due to coughs every year. Most coughs last a few days and are the result of a common cold. It is frustrating for both the parents and child if a cough is present for weeks and results in sleepless nights for all.
At its core, coughing is not a bad thing. It is actually an important protective mechanism of the lungs. Cough helps guard against aspiration and assists in the removal of secretions from the airways. Chronic cough results when cough receptors are constantly triggered by various stimuli. Cough receptors are located in the nose, sinuses, larynx, pharynx airways, ear canal and diaphragm.
Chronic cough can be caused by a variety of conditions such as:
Recognizing specific cause, and elimination or treatment of the cause, could result in improvement of chronic cough. Diagnostic testing may include allergy skin testing, lung function testing known as spirometry and GI evaluation for GERD.
Chronic cough treatment aims to eliminate the underlying cause. Each type of treatment is tried separately, one after another, until the cough is resolved. Seeing which treatment works best helps to figure out the underlying cause. Here are some examples of treatment choices for different causes of cough.
If your cough is related to postnasal drip, it may improve with the use of a decongestant, nasal or oral antihistamine, or a nasal spray. The best chronic cough treatment (or combination of treatments) depends upon your chronic cough symptoms and medical history. As an example, if you have nasal allergies, medications are chosen to control allergy symptoms.
If your cough is due to asthma, you will be given the standard treatment for asthma, which includes an inhaled bronchodilator, like Albuterol, and inhaled glucocorticoid, like Pulmicort or Flovent.
Lose weight if you are overweight, Stop smoking, Avoid eating for two to three hours before lying down, Elevate the head of the bed three to four inches.
Eosinophilic bronchitis is treated with inhaled glucocorticoids, like Pulmicort or Flovent. These medications are also used for asthma and work to decrease inflammation in the airways.
If you have questions about Chronic Cough, feel free to contact our offices. One of our staff would be happy to answer your questions about Chronic Cough and discuss different treatment options offered at Allergy & Asthma Clinics of Ohio.