An annoying nuisance or a symptom of serious underlying condition? Is it just the way your body gets rid of the mucous or a sign of inflammation or illness? Firstly, if your cough persists for more than 8 weeks, it is considered chronic. Chronic cough symptoms include persistent cough, which may even wake you up from sleep, hoarse voice, etc. Chronic cough treatment depends on the cause of this symptom and in most cases consists of a course of medications. More detailed information about this condition, its diagnosis and chronic cough treatment options is presented below.
What is a chronic cough?
In adults, a cough is identified as chronic, when it lasts for 8 weeks or more. In children, a cough that lasts more than 4 weeks is considered to be persistent.
It is more than just a mere annoyance, a chronic cough can interrupt your sleep pattern and leave you feeling tired. In severe cases of chronic cough, it can cause vomiting, lightheadedness and even rib fractures.
Even though it may be difficult to pinpoint the problem, the most common causes are due to tobacco use, postnasal drip, asthma and acid reflux. The good news is that the persistent cough typically disappears once the underlying problem is fixed.
CHRONIC COUGH SYMPTOMS
- A runny or stuffy nose
- A sensation of liquid running down the back of your throat
- Frequent throat clearing
- Sore throat
- Hoarseness in the throat
- Shortness of breath
- Experience heartburn or a sour taste in your mouth
- Coughing up blood (rare)
CHRONIC COUGH TREATMENT OPTIONS
To have an effective treatment, it’s important to determine the cause of persistent cough. In many cases, there is more than one underlying condition that’s causing your chronic cough. The treatment types to treat persistent cough include:
- Antihistamines, glucocorticoids and decongestants: These are the standard treatment drugs used for allergies and postnasal drip.
- Inhaled asthma drugs: The most effective treatments for asthma-related cough are glucocorticoids and bronchodilators, which reduce inflammation and open up your airways.
- Antibiotics: Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if a bacterial infection is causing your chronic cough.
- Acid blockers: You may be treated with medications that block acid production if lifestyle changes are not improving your acid reflux symptoms. Surgery may be required to fix the problem in some people.
- Cough suppressants: When the root of the cough can’t be determined and if it’s interfering with your daily life, your doctor may prescribe a cough suppressant. However, there are no evidence that over-the-counter cough medicines are effective.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE A CHRONIC COUGH?
- X-rays: Even though a chest X-ray won’t be able to reveal the most common reasons for a cough, it may be used to check for lung cancer, pneumonia and other lung diseases. Evidence of a sinus infection may be revealed through a sinux X-ray.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scans: May be used to check your lungs for conditions that may produce cough or to check your sinus cavities for pockets of infection.z
- Lung function tests: These non-invasive tests are used to diagnose asthma and COPD. They are able to measure how much air your lungs can hold and how fast you are able to exhale. Asthma challenge test: To check how well you can breathe before and after inhaling the drug Methacholine (Provocholine). A bronchoscope is performed to view your lungs and air passages. A biopsy may also be taken from the inside lining of your airway to be examined for any abnormalities. A rhinoscope allows your doctor to view your nasal passages to look for upper airway causes of cough.