A chronic cough differs from a tickle in the throat or the cough experienced during a dry winter or summer.
- Postnasal drip. With a cold or sinus infection, the nose sometimes produces extra mucus that “drips” down the throat, prompting a frequent cough which is often worse at night or first thing in the morning. Allergies and nasal congestion are commonly associated with a chronic cough from post nasal drip.
- Asthma. People with asthma sometimes experience a frequent cough. With some types of asthma, the primary symptom is a cough rather than wheezing or shortness of breath. This type of asthma is called cough variant asthma.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD occurs with excess acid production in the stomach and reflux of acid onto the vocal cords and into the trachea. This can be associated with chest discomfort and “heartburn” but not always.
- Infections. Respiratory infections such as pneumonia or upper respiratory viral infections such as the common cold may cause a lingering nagging cough after the original symptoms have resolved. Pertussis, or whooping cough, in adults may also be to blame for chronic cough.
- Chronic bronchitis and Emphysema. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema fall under the auspices of COPD and often result in a chronic cough.
- Medication. Some medications especially those involved in the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure, such as ACE inhibitors, can also cause a chronic cough.
Less common causes of chronic cough include bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer, and sarcoidosis.
To accurately diagnose and treat your chronic cough, set up an appointment with our staff at Austin Pulmonary Consultants. We’ll conduct a thorough physical exam and ask detailed questions about your symptoms and medical history. Additional testing including pulmonary function testing, chest x-rays or chest CT scans and laboratory testing may be required. Infrequently, bronchoscopy, or an endoscopic evaluation of the airways may be needed.
With the underlying condition identified, we’ll build a care and management plan that works for you. If you smoke, we’ll help you quit. Other conditions, like postnasal drip or upper respiratory infections, may be treated with antihistamines, decongestants, or antibiotics. With the more complex cases, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or GERD related cough, we’ll create a more detailed regimen and action plan, plus follow up appointments, to ensure you’re responding well to treatment.
To set up an appointment for chronic cough with Austin Pulmonary Consultants, call our North Office at (512) 977-0123 or South Office at (512) 441-9799.
Additional information about chronic cough can be found on our resources page.