When a cough lasts for eight weeks or longer in adults and for about 4 weeks in children, it can be characterized as chronic cough. A chronic cough may interfere with your sleep and also can make you feel exhausted. A person may even suffer from vomiting, lightheadedness and even rib fractures due to persistent cough. An occasional cough is normal but if a cough persists for weeks, it is usually due to some medical problem.
Common symptoms of chronic cough may include heartburn, hoarse voice, sore throat, stuffed nose, wheezing, shortness of breath, running nose and a feeling of liquid dripping down the back of your throat. Some of the serious repercussions of chronic cough may include: broken ribs if a person coughs too hard, headaches, dizziness, frustration and anxiety, urine leakage and sleep loss. If a person is suffering from persistent cough for a long time, some serious side-effects may appear. They are night sweats, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, unwanted weight loss, chest pain and high fever.
Chronic cough can happen due to a number of different causes. The treatment for chronic cough includes treatment for acid reflux, asthma, chronic bronchitis, infections and post-nasal drips. A cough suppressant which is generally available over-the –counter helps to relax the cough reflex.
One cause which is responsible for the majority of the occurrences of persistent cough is postnasal drip – This happens when nose or sinus secrete extra mucus and it triggers the cough reflex by dripping down the back of a person’s throat. Asthma related cough may become worse when a person is exposed to cold air, chemicals or fragrances. Cough is the main symptom in one o asthma. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition where stomach acid flows back into the tube that connects the stomach and throat which causes constant irritation. This irritation can lead to chronic coughing. Some other factors that may trigger chronic cough are infections, blood pressure drugs and chronic bronchitis. Bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis, aspiration and other factors can also cause persistent cough.
Reflux medicines like H2 receptor blockers, proton pump inhibitors and antacids help to reduce or block production of acids. Chronic cough due to asthma can be dealt with the help of medications like inhaled steroids and bronchodilators. Antibiotics can help to treat pneumonia or any other bacterial infection that may cause chronic cough. Persistent cough due to postnasal drip can be treated with the help of decongestants, antihistamines, and steroid nasal sprays which help to thin and remove extra mucus and also helps to reduc swelling in the nasal passages.
If medications to treat common causes of persistent cough do not yield any results, a doctor can recommend a number of tests to find out the actual cause. There can be imaging tests including X-Rays and computerized tomography scans, lung function tests, lab tests and scope tests. For children, a chest X-Ray and spirometry are usually recommended to find out the root cause. A person becomes eligible for treatment if a doctor is able to find out the cause of his cough by means of his test. Conversely, if a patient responds to the treatment for the common causes of persistent cough, he/she is eligible.
People who can suffer serious side-effects due to the intake of antibiotics, glucocorticoids, acid blockers and asthma drugs are not eligible for the treatment. A person is eligible for treatment of persistent cough only after a doctor has pinpointed the exact cause of the ailment and has provided him/her with appropriate treatment measures. Children below 4 years should ever be given over-the-counter cough suppressants as it may have serious effects on the child’s health.
Some of the side-effects of H2 receptor blockers are constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth and skin, runny nose, ringing in the ears and difficulty in sleeping. Proton pump inhibitors may cause side-effects like constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea. Inhaled steroids used to treat persistent cough due to asthma have side-effects like sore mouth and throat, fungus infection in the mouth, decreased bone thickness in adults and spasms of the large airways. Antihistamines, used to treat persistent cough due to post-nasal drip can cause drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, vision problems, nausea, restlessness in children and trouble urinating.
A patient, who has undergone treatment for bronchial asthma, should follow the doctor’s advice so that the condition does not flare up again. A person should drink more fluids as they help to thin the mucus in the throat. Your throat will get some relief if you intake warm liquids like broth, juice or tea. Dry cough and an irritated throat can be taken care of with the help of cough drops or hard candies. A person should keep the air in their place of residence moisturized by using a humidifier. One of the most important precautions that a person can take is to avoid smoking and also to stay away from second-hand smoke.
Persistent cough can happen due to a number of different reasons. Genera medications can treat the outward symptoms and provide temporary relief. But it will take a much longer time to treat the underlying cause. Persistent cough may even occur due to infection or inhalation of secondary smoke. So the time required to recover from this condition will depend on the time required to deal with the underlying cause. In most instances, this takes a lot of time.
The price of proton pump inhibitors can vary between Rs 500 and Rs 28,000. Anti-histamines, which help to treat persistent cough due to postnasal drip can cost anything between Rs 500 and Rs 2500. Inhaled steroids, which are used to treat persistent cough due to asthma are available for something around Rs 9000.
For the same reason as to why the recovery from persisting cough may require a long time, permanent treatment is also not always possible. Medications and other post-treatment guidelines can help to address the symptoms of this condition. But a cured person may again develop chronic cough if he/she comes in contact with allergens that act as triggers or it may happen as a cause of some other medical complication. Treatment can help you to overcome this condition completely. But extra care is required to ensure that it does not come back. Treatment for the underlying cause may help you to get rid of this ailment once and for all.
Using a humidifier in your bedroom will help to keep the environment of the room moist by removing dry air. This will help you to keep your airways clear. You can also add a shallow pan of water to the room if there I no humidifier. It is of utmost importance to avoid allergens like pollen, dust, grass and other things that may trigger the condition. Fruit contain high content of fiber and flavonoids that can help to prevent chronic cough. Thus a person should incorporate more fruits into his/her diet.