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Chronic Cough: Know the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Mar 25, 2020

Flu and Viruses

Chronic Cough: Know the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Coughing is a common bodily reflex action that clears mucus and foreign irritants, like inhaled food, from your throat and lungs. However, when the coughing persists and you see more severe symptoms, such as blood in your sputum, make sure to consult with your doctor on what to do.

What Is a Chronic (Persistent) Cough?

A cough is said to be chronic or persistent when it lasts for an extended period, more than two weeks. Keep in mind that chronic cough is not categorized as a disease in itself. However, it can be a symptom of some underlying diseases.

What Causes a Chronic Cough?

Common causes of chronic coughing are:

  • Bronchitis/Upper Respiratory Infection
  • Allergies/Sinus problems
  • Asthma
  • Gastroesophageal (reflux disease)

Rarely, it can also be a sign of a more acute condition, such as lung disease or heart problems.

What Are the Different Types of Chronic Coughs?

The most common types of chronic coughs are dry and wet cough. A dry cough does not produce any mucus and is usually a sign of sinus problems or viral infections. On the other hand, wet cough produces mucus and usually indicates bacterial infection or a buildup of fluid in the lungs.

Other types of chronic cough include stress cough caused due to a reflexive spasm of the airways, ‘barking’ cough associated with viral illnesses such as croup, and whooping cough.

What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Coughing?

Some of the signs and symptoms of chronic coughing are:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Sore throat
  • Heartburn
  • Night sweats
  • Fever and chills
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • In rare cases, coughing up blood

How Is a Chronic Cough Treated?

The treatment for a chronic cough will depend on its underlying cause. For example, if you have an asthma-related cough, bronchodilators can be helpful as they open up your airways and reduce inflammation. Medications used to treat chronic coughs are generally decongestants, antihistamines, and corticosteroids.

Similarly, antibiotics may be prescribed if a fungal, bacterial, or mycobacterial infection is triggering your cough, verses a viral infection. If you have acid reflux that contributes to your chronic cough, you may need to take acid blockers, which will block acid production in your stomach.

When Is Coughing an Emergency?

Coughing becomes an emergency when it is accompanied by symptoms such as any of the following:

  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • High fever
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Difficulty in swallowing

These symptoms can indicate more serious medical emergencies like pneumonia and should be taken care of immediately.

When to See a Doctor in the Case of a Chronic Cough?

You will need to see a doctor if you have a cough that persists for more than two weeks and or brings up sputum (greenish in color) or blood, affects your daily routine, causing difficulty in breathing and disturbs your sleep.

If you or your loved ones have any of the symptoms of chronic cough, contact 828 Urgent Care to get the best treatment!

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