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When a Cough Won’t Go Away: Understanding and Treating Chronic Cough

When a Cough Won’t Go Away: Understanding and Treating Chronic Cough

July 19, 2023

We’ve all experienced a cough that lingers longer than we’d like. It can be frustrating, disruptive, and even worrisome. When a cough persists for an extended period, it’s known as a chronic cough. 

What is Chronic Cough?

A chronic cough is defined as a cough that lasts for eight weeks or longer in adults. It lasts for four weeks or longer in children. It can have various causes, including:

·      postnasal drip

·      asthma

·      gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

·      even medications

Identifying the underlying trigger is crucial for effective management. 

A chronic cough can significantly impact one’s quality of life, disrupting sleep, social interactions, and daily activities. However, with the right approach, it’s possible to find relief.

Identifying Underlying Causes

To address a chronic cough, it’s essential to identify the underlying cause. Here are some common culprits:

1.  Postnasal Drip: When excess mucus drips down the back of the throat, it can trigger a persistent cough. The following can contribute to postnasal drip:

·      allergies

·      sinus infections

·      colds 

2.  Asthma: Chronic inflammation of the airways can cause coughing as a prominent symptom. If you have a history of wheezing, shortness of breath, or a family history of asthma, it’s worth exploring this possibility.

3.  GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as acid reflux, can cause stomach acid to back up into the throat. This can lead to a chronic cough.

4.  Medications: Certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure, may induce a persistent cough as a side effect.

Managing Chronic Cough 

1.  Address Underlying Conditions: If an underlying condition is responsible for the chronic cough, treating it can bring relief. This may involve:

·      allergy management

·      asthma medication

·      reflux treatments

·      adjusting medication regimens 

2.  Cough Suppressants: Over-the-counter cough suppressants, such as those containing dextromethorphan, can help alleviate the urge to cough. 

These medications work by temporarily blocking the cough reflex. However, they should be used as directed. Do not used for an extended period without consulting your doctor.

3.  Natural Remedies: Some may find relief from chronic coughs through natural remedies. Honey, for example, can provide soothing relief due to its antimicrobial properties. Steam inhalation with essential oils like peppermint or eucalyptus may also offer temporary relief by reducing throat irritation.

Lifestyle Modifications

In addition to cough suppressants, certain lifestyle modifications can contribute to the management of a chronic cough. These may include:

1.  Avoiding triggers: Identify and avoid substances or situations that trigger your cough, such as smoke, allergens, or irritants.

2.  Elevating the head: Sleeping with an elevated head position can reduce coughing at night. This can be particularly helpful for those with GERD or postnasal drip.

3.  Hydration: Staying hydrated helps keep the airways moist. It also reduces coughing and irritation.

4.  Humidifiers: Using a humidifier or vaporizer adds moisture to the air. This helps relieve dryness and reduces coughing.

Dealing with a chronic cough can be challenging. However, there are effective cough suppressants available to provide much-needed relief. Whether you opt for over-the-counter cough syrups, natural remedies, or the aromatic benefits of essential oils, finding the right approach may help calm that persistent cough. 

Remember to address underlying causes and seek medical advice when necessary. With the right strategies and treatments, you can regain control over your cough and bid farewell to its unwelcome presence.

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