Chronic cough

    • Brief

    • A cough is caused by irritants such as mucus or foreign particles getting into your airways. It is a body reflex that occurs to clear the airway off these irritants. Cough can be productive (phlegm or mucus comes out when you cough) or non-productive (no mucus is produced).

      Cough can also be caused by viruses as in the case of the common cold and catarrh. You can take medications to relieve the symptoms of such infections, but no medications exists against the virus infections. You need to wait until it passes by itself.

      Cough is considered to be chronic when it lasts for more than 8 weeks in adults and more than 4 weeks in children. The treatment largely depends on the underlining cause.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • Symptoms that come with chronic cough include:

      • Fever.
      • Itchy throat.
      • Tiredness.
      • Chest tightness and chest pain.
      • Difficulty breathing.
      • Chest pain.
    • What are the causes?

    • Common causes of chronic cough include:

      • An itchy throat makes you cough. When it lasts for a long period of time, it will become chronic and will need attention.
      • Allergies ca cause irritation of the airway, which in turn causes coughing. Exposure to irritants that trigger your allergies can cause a chronic cough. For example, working in a construction site and being exposed to dust regularly.
      • A viral or bacterial infection of the airways causes swelling of the airway lining and mucus buildup, resulting in cough that lasts till the infection is gone. Common infections include the common cold and catarrh.
      • Asthma can cause symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath, which can occur seasonally, are often accompanied by a chronic cough.
      • The production of acid in the upper stomach area close to the airway (acid reflux) can cause an irritation that causes chronic cough.
    • What are the things that put you at risk?

      • Long-term tobacco smoking affects the airways.
      • Some medications or medical conditions (e.g. HIV, hepatitis) make it easy for an infection to arise.
      • Side-effects of some medications cause a chronic cough. For example, some blood pressure-lowering medications cause dry cough.

    • When to visit a doctor?

    • When you observe that your cough lasts for more than 8 weeks (4 weeks in a child) without resolving, you should visit your healthcare provider. Especially when it comes with coloured phlegm or when you cough up blood. Your healthcare provider will a run series of tests to diagnose the cause of the cough and determine the best treatment option.

    • How to prevent?

    • Most chronic cough conditions result from underlying conditions and are prevented by:

      • Practicing personal hygiene, such as regular hand washing (see the wellness section)
      • Eating healthy by taking more fruits to help prevent infections.
      • Avoiding contact with people who have a cough.
      • Taking immune-boosting supplements such as vitamin C.
      • If you are cold-intolerant, you should keep yourself warm all the time by wearing warm clothing.
    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care tips

      Do not manage a chronic cough at home. See your healthcare provider as soon as possible. However, a chronic cough can be improved by:

      • Keeping yourself warm.
      • Avoiding your triggers. Staying away from the things that worsen your cough can help your body to heal.
      • Home remedies do not work consistently. You may, however, use them if you feel some relief.
      • Menthol can help with some coughs. Sucking on menthol sweets can help with throat irritation.
      • If you have a fever use over the counter (OTC) medicines like paracetamol.

      Treatment options

      The primary treatment for a chronic cough is to treat the underlining cause (which may vary) and manage the symptoms.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Treating the underlying condition will lead to improvements in the cough intensity and frequency. The cough may not disappear immediately, but will continue to improve gradually.