Many of us are afflicted with chronic cough. This could be because of asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinus problems, esophageal reflux of stomach contents, medications such as ACE inhibitors or infections such as TB.
That said, the chronic cough might result in children from inhaling alien objects into their lungs. It is important to see a general physician who may do a chest X-ray in such cases. Other causes of chronic cough could be infections like bronchitis or pneumonia caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungus. Moreover, Mycoplasma also called “walking pneumonia,” mostly affecting the young and healthy is a particular strain of bacterial pneumonia, which might also lead to chronic cough. Symptoms of this infection also include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and sputum production.
Caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, whooping cough is a severe, highly contagious respiratory tract infection. It is known to cause violent, rapid, constant coughing and is life-threatening in children. While whooping cough can be prevented by immunization in children, in adults, it can cause chronic cough.
Some other causes of chronic cough –
- Congestive heart failure
- Lung diseases like chronic obstructive disease (COPD) or emphysema
Also read: Symptoms Of Covid – Do I Have Covid?
Symptoms that may accompany chronic coughs –
- Sore throat
- Postnasal drip
- Runny or stuffy nose
- A bad taste in the mouth
Remember, if you have chronic cough and experience serious symptoms like difficulty breathing, fever, chest pain, coughing up blood or yellow or green phlegm or coughing hard which makes you throw up, immediately see a doctor.
Different types of chronic coughs –
Dry cough is a nagging and persistent cough not producing any mucus. It is irritating for your lungs and throat, and could be a sign of a viral infection, allergies or sinus issues.
Chronic wet cough
This type of chronic cough produces mucus (sputum), and various other symptoms and a checkup by a General Physician in Delhi will help determine the cause – pneumonia, and CHF being the commonest.
This is a reflexive spasm of the airways and happens when you are stressed. This type of cough generally does not produce any mucus and is not usually related to any infection.
This type of chronic cough typically occurs in children, and could be linked to croup or other viral illness. Also, the harsh, barking type of sound associated with this type of cough is caused by a swollen windpipe (trachea).
Treatment for chronic coughs
Cough syrup is widely recommended to pacify and calm both chronic and acute coughs. However, long term treatment is commonly dependent on the underlying causes and a thorough medical check up is important. Cough syrup is not the final treatment
Treatments for chronic cough caused by medications, conditions, or diseases –
- Inhaled bronchodilators
- Inhaled steroids
- Short-term oral steroids
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Avoiding reflux increasing foods
- Avoiding meals before sleeping
- Elevating the head while sleeping
- Medication like famotidine, cimetidine, ranitidine, omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole, esomeprazole
Sinus problems and postnasal drip
- Decongestants like pseudoephedrine
- Antihistamines like diphenhydramine
- Inhaled nasal steroids
- Nasal inhalers – ipratropium bromide
If your chronic cough gets severe, doctors might recommend codeine or other similar medications, which work as cough suppressants.
Treatment for chronic cough caused by infections or drugs –
Bacterial pneumonia and bronchitis
- Antibiotics like cephalosporins, azithromycin or others
- Pain relievers can be helpful
- Rest, fluids, pain relievers, and humidification
- Expectorant cough medicines containing guaifenesin
There are instances where asthmatics produce green mucus that looks infected. In such cases an assessment by a doctor is necessary.
If you have chronic cough and are also taking blood pressure medicines called ACE inhibitors, such as enalapril, captopril, lisinopril, etc. be extra careful. By all means take your doctor’s consent before switching medications. You must not stop taking your medicine on your own. Take note that a stark rise in blood pressure can result from discontinuation.
Top home remedies for chronic cough
Some home or natural remedies can also effectively treat chronic cough. However, do talk to your doctor before taking the following home remedies, herbal supplements or natural remedies for chronic cough, to ensure that they do not interact with your medications.
- Keep yourself hydrated, as liquids will help in thinning secretions
- Warm salt-water gargle will cleanse throat by removing the mucus
- Use extra pillows to raise your head at night to pacify chronic dry cough
- Inhale steam
- Cough drops are helpful in soothing irritated throat
- Avoid smoking or taking tobacco products
- Stay away from smoke, dust, and other pollutants
- Honey is an effective treatment for a persistent cough. Make yourself honey tea.
- Put ginger in your tea to clear nasal passages and pacify chronic cough
- Herbs like eucalyptus or mint are also great in relieving chronic cough
Effective prevention tips
- Take your doctor’s advice regarding how to manage asthma, postnasal drip, or GERD which will help you avoid chronic cough symptoms.
- Keep distance from others affected with bronchitis or pneumonia.
- Eat lots of fruit, as fruit fiber and flavonoids are known to prevent chronic productive cough.
- Take whooping cough vaccine
If chronic cough continues, do seek medical help. Doctors will evaluate your condition and diagnose possibilities of asthma, esophageal reflux, postnasal drip, interstitial lung disease, lung cancer, drug side effects, or other atypical infections.
To start with you can consult a general physician to diagnose and treat your persistent cough. If it still continues to be severe, your GP will refer you to a specialist like a pulmonologist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist or an allergist, depending on your underlying causes.
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