A number of cases of chronic cough are treated by Best General Physician in Karachi during the winter season. Any cough is classified as chronic if it lasts for more than four weeks in children or more than eight weeks in adults. Chronic coughs are often hard to treat and result in interrupted sleep with subsequent exhaustion. There can be many causes of persistent cough; read on to know more about what causes chronic cough.
What is chronic cough?
Chronic cough is persistent cough that although is not a disease in its own but indicates an underlying disorder. About 10 to 20 percent of people in the United States alone visit the healthcare provider with this complaint. The risk of chronic cough rises if someone is a smoker, is exposed to second hand smoke or air pollutants including chemical waste and taking certain medication like ACE inhibitors for controlling blood pressure.
Emergency treatment for chronic cough should be sought if there is:
- High grade fever more than 103 °F
- Chest pain
- Blood with cough or with phlegm
- Dyspnea or shortness of breath
In addition, there can be worrisome symptoms that warrant a more thorough examination by the healthcare provider, including:
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss without trying
- Chronic and unexplainable fatigue
What are the symptoms of chronic cough?
Apart from persistent cough, there can be additional symptoms like:
- Stuff nose
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat
- Phlegm or blood in cough
What does chronic cough indicate?
A number of health conditions can result in chronic cough. These can include: respiratory conditions, allergies, infections and even medication.
- Respiratory conditions: lung conditions that often result in chronic cough include:
- Asthma: a frequent cause of chronic cough is asthma which causes shortness of breath and wheezing in the patient. These breathing difficulties occur due to inflammation of the airways and result in chronic cough.
- Bronchitis: swelling of the bronchial tubes and excessive mucus production are the hallmarks of bronchitis. They also result in chronic cough. Bronchitis can be acute or chronic in onset.
- Bronchiectasis: in this respiratory condition, there is buildup of mucus and thickening of the lung tissue that subsequently results in chronic cough.
- Upper respiratory tract infections: including pneumonia, colds, flu and viral infections are common causes of upper respiratory tract infections associated with cough.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD): this refers to a group of respiratory illnesses such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis that can occur with or without tobacco use which can result in persistent cough.
- Infections: microbial infestation and infectious diseases that can result in chronic cough include:
- Pertussis which causes whooping cough
- Fungal infections of the lungs such as aspergillosis
- Bacterial infection of the lungs like pulmonary tuberculosis and even other non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections.
- Allergies: onset of spring can bring pollen, seasonal allergies and hay fever thereby causing chronic dry cough. This type of cough is more prevalent in individuals who are allergic to dust, pollen, dander and mold.
- Medication: certain drugs are notorious for causing chronic cough, including ACE inhibitors, the drugs for managing hypertension. Examples of ACE inhibitors include: benazepril, enalapril, lisinopril, captopril and ramipril. Expert healthcare providers warn their patients of this side effect and can offer to change it to another antihypertensive if persistent cough becomes bothersome.
- Sinus conditions: infections of the sinuses called sinusitis can produce postnasal drip which can cause mucus to trickle at the back of the throat and produce chronic cough.
How is chronic cough managed?
Chronic cough can be managed through the following conservative measures:
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
- Using extra pillows at night to prop up
- Avoiding exposure to allergens
- Using cough lozenges
What are the complications of chronic cough?
Chronic cough can interfere with the activities of daily living. In addition, it can cause complications like:
- Inability to concentrate
- Interrupted sleep
- Urinary incontinence
- Fainting spells