A cough lasting eight weeks or longer is considered chronic. A chronic cough can disrupt your sleep and affect your work. It may include other symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, runny nose, congestion and heartburn.
If you have a cough that lasts more than a month, make an appointment with your ear nose and throat physician.
What Causes Chronic Cough?
A cough is your body’s way of expelling a substance that is irritating the air passages. A variety of factors may trigger your chronic cough. These include:
- Postnasal drip
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (includes bronchitis and emphysema)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Air pollution
- ACE inhibitors (found in some medications used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease)
- A2RB’s (Angiotensin Receptor Blockers)
How Is a Chronic Cough Evaluated and Treated?
After asking about your medical history, your doctor will perform a thorough head and neck exam. This exam might include a procedure known as a laryngoscopy to examine your larynx, in addition to possible imaging tests as well. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can begin. If medications are prescribed, they may include:
- Asthma drugs
- Acid blockers
- Cough suppressants
Diet and lifestyle changes are often very effective as well.