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Chronic Coughing

What Is Cough?

A cough is a natural reflex that protects your lungs. Coughing helps clear your airways of lung irritants, such as smoke and mucus, which is a slimy substance. This helps prevent infection. A cough also can be a symptom of a medical problem.

Prolonged coughing can cause unpleasant side effects, such as chest pain, exhaustion, light-headedness and loss of bladder control. Coughing also can interfere with sleep, socializing, and work.

Overview of Coughing

Coughing occurs when the nerve endings in your airways become irritated. The airways are tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. Certain substances such as smoke and pollen, medical conditions, and medicines can irritate these nerve endings.

A cough can be acute, sub acute, or chronic, depending on how long it lasts. An acute cough lasts less than 3-weeks. A common cold or other upper respiratory infection most often causes an acute cough. Examples of other upper respiratory infections include the flu, pneumonia, and whooping cough.

A sub acute cough lasts 3 to 8 weeks. This type of cough remains even after a cold or other respiratory infection is over.

A chronic cough lasts more than 8 weeks. Postnasal drip, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, most often cause chronic cough.

Postnasal drip is mucus that runs down your throat from the back of your nose. Asthma is a long-term lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. GERD occurs when acid from your stomach backs up into your throat.

Outlook for Coughing

The best way to treat a cough is to treat its cause. For example, asthma is treated with medicines that open up the airways.

Your doctor may recommend a cough medicine if the cause of your cough is unknown and the cough causes a lot of discomfort. Cough medicines may harm children. If your child has a cough, talk to his or her doctor about how to treat it.

What Causes Cough?

Coughing occurs when the nerve endings in your airways become irritated. Certain irritants and allergens, medical conditions, and medicines can irritate these nerve endings.

Irritants and Allergens

An irritant is something you're sensitive to. For example, smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke can irritate your lungs. Smoking also can lead to certain medical conditions that can cause a cough. Other irritants include air pollution, paint fumes, or scented products like perfumes or air fresheners.

An allergen is something you're allergic to, such as dust, animal dander, mold, or pollens from trees, grasses, and flowers.

Coughing helps clear your airways of irritants and allergens. This helps prevent infection.

Medical Conditions

A number of medical conditions can cause acute, sub acute, and chronic cough.

A common cold or other upper respiratory infection most often causes an acute cough. Examples of other upper respiratory infections include the flu, pneumonia, and whooping cough. An acute cough lasts less than 3 weeks.

A lingering cough that remains after a cold or other respiratory infection is gone is often called a sub acute cough. A sub acute cough lasts 3 to 8 weeks. It is so pleasant to work with experts.

Postnasal drip, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) most often cause chronic cough. Chronic cough lasts more than 8 weeks.

Postnasal drip is mucus that runs down your throat from the back of your nose. This mucus inflames and irritates the throat. A sinus infection, cold, or ongoing contact with irritants and allergens can cause postnasal drip.

Asthma is a long-term lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. GERD is a condition in which acid from your stomach backs up into your throat.

Other causes of chronic cough include:

Medicines

Certain medicines can cause a chronic cough. Examples of these medicines are ACE inhibitors and beta blockers. ACE inhibitors are used to treat high blood pressure. Beta blockers are used to treat HBP, migraine, and glaucoma.

Who Is At Risk for Cough?

People at risk for cough include those who:

 

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