Chronic Cough- Learn More
What a Chronic Cough Means
Chronic cough is a common reason why patients seek care from a doctor and also one of your body's normal defense mechanisms. While a chronic cough can be a sign of infection or asthma, a cough is appropriate as your body tries to expel infection, mucus and other foreign material from your body.
Cough is not always a sign that something is wrong, but any chronic cough -- lasting more than 3 weeks -- should be investigated. The most common reasons for a non-smoking person to develop chronic cough are:
However, there are a number of other less common causes of chronic cough including:
Chronic cough related to asthma commonly occurs at night (coughing at night is not normal and should almost always be investigated) and its frequency is one of the factors used to determine how well your symptoms are controlled. A cough with asthma may be made worse by viral infections and cold air.
When a cough occurs with other common asthma symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath or when someone has a significant nighttime cough, asthma should be suspected and you may need to undergo tests to diagnose asthma.
Chronic Cough- Learn More
Treating Chronic Cough
The first step in treating a chronic cough is to make sure you have the correct diagnosis. After taking a history, asking about medications and allergies, your doctor may order a number of tests like a chest x-ray or spirometry. If you have never been diagnosed with asthma, your doctor may begin treatment or change your treatment if your doctor feels the cough is a sign of worsening asthma.
Your doctor may prescribe medications if your chronic cough is due to asthma. These could include inhaled steroids such as:
Your doctor may also prescribe medications for acute symptom control of chronic cough. These could include short acting inhalers such as:
When Should I Call a Doctor About Chronic Cough?
You need to make sure you contact a physician if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Chronic cough lasting more than 3 weeks
- Nighttime coughing or trouble sleeping
- If you cough up blood
- Significant pain with a cough
- Passing out when you cough
Could My Chronic Cough Be Something Else Besides Asthma?
If you think your chronic cough could be something else besides asthma, why not go to the symptom checker and see what else might be causing your symptoms.
Up To Date. Patient Information. Accessed June 5, 2009. Chronic Cough.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed: June 5, 2009. Expert Panel Report 3 (EPR3): Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma