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Chronic Cough: Causes, Risks and How to Put a Stop to It

Causes|Risk Factors|Treatment|Home Remedies|Key Takeaway
Chronic Cough: Causes, Risks and How to Put a Stop to It

Coughing might seem uncomfortable but it serves a useful purpose. As you cough, you bring out the mucus and foreign materials that can irritate your lungs. Coughing can also be your body’s answer to illness or inflammation. Oftentimes a cough lingers for days, weeks, or even years. When any cough lasts longer than 8 weeks, it is called a chronic cough. This is treatable, and there are medications that can help you eliminate your chronic cough.


The Causes of Chronic Cough

A cough is a symptom that is shared by many illnesses. While most coughs resolve on their own, the causes of chronic cough include the following:

There are, of course, less common causes, of chronic cough. There’s little reason for you to worry about these causes unless you are at risk. Rare causes of chronic cough include:

  • Bronchiectasis, which is a damage in the airways that cause the bronchial walls to inflame
  • Bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the bronchioles, the small passages in the lungs
  • Cystic fibrosis, which causes damage to the lungs and other organs
  • Interstitial lung disease, which scars the lung tissue
  • Heart failure
  • Lung cancer
  • Pertussis, a bacterial infections also known as whooping cough
  • Sarcoidosis, inflamed cells in the lungs and other parts of the body

In cases of chronic cough, you may also experience other symptoms such as heartburn, a raspy voice, a feeling of liquid going down your throat, a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Other issues that may arise from chronic cough include fainting and dizziness, discomfort and chest soreness, headaches, anxiety and frustration, sleep loss, coughing up blood, night sweats, high fever, and shortness of breath. Sometimes you also lose weight for no reason at all.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors for Chronic Cough

There are a number of factors that make you more susceptible to chronic cough. If you smoke, you are more likely to get a chronic cough. If you have a weakened immune system or other pre-existing conditions, you are also more susceptible to chronic cough.

You should see a doctor if your cough lasts for more than three weeks. You should also seek medical help if you suffer from other symptoms such as losing weight without any reason, coughing up blood, fever, or sleep loss.

At the doctor’s clinic, your doctor might recommend you to undergo one or more of the following tests, depending on your symptoms and physical exam: acid reflux test, endoscopy, sputum test, pulmonary function tests, X-rays and CT scans. Your doctor might also insert a thin, tube down your throat to get a look at the insides of your upper airways. Other tests that might be required of you include bronchoscopy, and rhinoscopy.


Treatment for Chronic Cough

Treatment ultimately depends on the cause of your cough.

For the most common chronic cough, coughs caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

If acid reflux is the reason behind your cough, you may be given medication to reduce, neutralize, or block acid production. Some of these medicines are: antacids, H2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors. You can avail of these medicines over-the-counter but there are some that need a prescription from your doctor.

For coughs caused by asthma, there are a number of drugs to treat your cough. These are, of course, prescribed by your doctor and can bring down the swelling in your airways and widen narrow passage ways so that you can breathe more easily. You may need them every day to prevent asthma attacks.

If you have chronic bronchitis, there are treatments such as inhaled steroids and bronchodilators which are deemed effective and efficient.

For postnasal drip, decongestants can dry up the secretions in your throat. You can also use antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays which help bring down the swelling in your nasal passages.

To control your cough, you can also try a cough suppressant and over-the-counter medications. Take note that some of these medicines can also cause drowsiness and may be habit-forming.

Home Remedies to Help Ease Coughing

Home Remedies

Home Remedies for Chronic Cough

Medication isn’t the only remedy for chronic cough. You can also try these home remedies to help relieve your chronic cough.

  • Drink lots of water or juice. Fluids can loosen the mucus stuck in your lungs or throat. Drinking warm water from broths or teas can also be helpful.
  • Suck on a cough lozenge.
  • If you have acid reflux, avoid overeating and don’t eat two or three hours before going to bed. You can try losing weight as this might also help in dealing with your acid reflux.
  • Put on a cool mist humidifier as this can add moisture to the air, allowing you to breathe properly.
  • Breathe in some steam.
  • Take a warm shower as breathing in steam from the shower can help relieve chest congestion.
  • Use a nose spray or try nasal irrigation. The salt water can help drain the mucus that is causing you to cough.
  • Try to quit smoking. If you don’t know how, ask your doctor for help.

Key Takeaway

Chronic cough is a treatable ailment. By knowing what caused it, you can learn how to treat it through the right medication, home remedies and lifestyle changes. So go see your doctor when you are coughing non-stop!

Learn more about Infectious Diseases here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Ruby Fernandez Updated 2 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran