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What is a chronic cough? What are its clinical treatments and home remedies?
What is a chronic cough? What are its clinical treatments and home remedies? A cough lasting more than 8 weeks or more is called a chronic cough. Most of the coughs are short-lived occurring along with cold or flu, and after that, you’ll start feeling better. Sometimes cough lingers for weeks, months, or even years, and this sort of cough is chronic.
Chronic cough impacts the lifestyle of a person. It may disturb you at night and also distract you from your social life and work. That’s why you should go to your doctor for a check-up if cough lasts more than three weeks.
In this article, you’ll get to know more about chronic cough, its clinical treatments, and home remedies?
What is a chronic cough?
Chronic cough persistently lasts at least for eight weeks, and often much longer. Chronic cough is really a burden and negatively impacts your daily life, with insomnia, and mental exhaustion.1 A chronic cough can result from many conditions such as allergies and postnasal drips.
Etiologies of Chronic Cough
Most common causes of chronic cough are as follows:
- Upper Respiratory Viral Infections: Many viral diseases cause upper respiratory tract infections. These infections irritate the mucosal lining of respiratory tract initiating cough.
- Asthma: In asthma, the patient’s immune system becomes hyperresponsive to external stimuli resulting in respiratory inflammation. As asthma is a chronic allergic disease, cough occurring in asthma can also become chronic.
- Pneumonia: Several viral and bacterial infections cause pneumonia in the lungs. Persistent pneumonia is always associated with chronic cough.
- Chronic Bronchitis: Bronchitis is also an inflammatory condition that can lead to severe coughing.
- Upper Airway Cough Syndrome: A wide spectrum of illnesses encompass this disease which includes allergic rhinitis, and bacterial or viral sinusitis.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: It is the most common cause of chronic cough, and forty percent of the patients suffer from chronic cough due to this. Retropulsion of the stomach or intestinal contents into the larynx initiates coughing.2
Although chronic cough is itself a symptom, yet some other symptoms might be associated with it. Such symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Suffocations occurring at intervals
- Stuffed nose
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Hoarse and ragged voice
- Chest discomfort
- Frustration and disturbance
- Spitting out blood if cough is due to a serious illness 3
What can be the risk factors for chronic cough?
Many factors make you prone to chronic cough. Important of them are enlisted below:
- Previous Respiratory Diseases
- Weakened Immunity
When do you need to see a doctor?
Chronic cough can be a serious emergency and can sometimes be fatal. Thus, it is necessary for the person suffering from chronic cough to regularly go to his or her doctor for regular check-ups. If you ever experience the following symptoms along with chronic cough, urgently see medical treatment:
- Spitting blood with cough
- Severe chest pain
- Chest discomfort
- A feeling of fainting and unconsciousness
- Difficulty catching up breath
- Breathing rapidly
Clinical Treatments of Chronic Cough
As chronic cough is a symptom, its treatment depends upon the underlying cause. However, to prevent the chronic cough itself, there are certain therapies which are as follows:
- Antihistamines: Histamine is a chemical that is released by our body cells called mast cells during inflammatory conditions. Antihistamines are prescribed to those patients who got a cough due to the inflammation of their throat.
- Nasal Decongestants: Most persons have runny nose associated with cough. Thus, nasal decongestants are drugs that decrease secretions dripping out of the nose. Decongestant sprays are also available nowadays.
- GERD treatment: As previously stated, forty percent of the patients having chronic cough have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Doctors treat GERD in order to treat cough.4
Home Remedies for Chronic Cough
Best home remedies for relieving cough are sorted out for you below:
- Honey: Honey is the best remedy for cough. It works best when taken in solution form with hot water. It soothes the sore throat as researches have shown that it has antibacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties.5
- Steam: A wet cough produces mucus or phlegm too. Steam is helpful in its prevention as it makes mucus thinner.
- Saltwater gargles: Saltwater gargling is one of the most effective therapy in soothing a sore throat and preventing wet cough.
- Dietary changes for GERD: If you have a chronic cough due to GERD, avoid eating acidic and spicy food, which triggers retropulsion of food.
You can easily prevent your problem of cough by using effective remedies. Moreover, if your cough is severe, you must seek medical care on an emergency basis. Also, if you are a smoker, ask your doctor for pieces of advice to quit it. Your life is important. Follow the preventive measures honestly and you’ll notice that your life has become healthier.
1. Chronic Cough | American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/chronic-cough.
2. Meskill, S. D. & Sampayo, E. M. Cough. in Urgent Care Medicine Secrets 84–89 (Elsevier, 2017). doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-46215-0.00016-1.
3. Chronic Cough Symptoms and Diagnosis | American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/chronic-cough/symptoms-diagnosis.
4. Alhajjaj, M. S. & Bajaj, P. Chronic Cough. StatPearls (StatPearls Publishing, 2020).
5. Paul, I. M. et al. Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 161, 1140–1146 (2007).