A chronic cough can be annoying and disruptive to your sleep and daily activities. Read on to learn more about the common causes of a chronic cough.
A chronic cough lasts longer than eight weeks in adults and longer than four weeks in children. A chronic cough is not a disease but rather a symptom of another ongoing disorder.
Asthma: Some people living with asthma have chronic cough as their only symptom with normal lung function tests, called cough-variant asthma.
Infections: Infections caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, can cause coughing.
Sometimes, viral upper respiratory infections are termed a post-viral cough, which results in an extended cough even after the infection has cleared.
Medications: Certain medications, notably ACE inhibitors (Enalapril (Vasotec), Captopril (Capoten), etc.) used in treating high blood pressure, can cause a chronic cough.
Less common causes include tumors, either benign or malignant, sarcoidosis, or other lung diseases.
If chronic cough persists, a patient should be evaluated by their doctor. It is important to rule out tumors, sarcoidosis, or other lung diseases and infections.
Common Causes of a Chronic Cough:
- Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Allergic Rhinitis / Sinusitis
- Pneumonia / Bronchitis
LPR and GERD
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) refer to the backward flow of stomach acid and other stomach contents into the esophagus, larynx, and pharynx.
If acid moves into the throat, this can result in chronic irritation or spasm of the airways, which can cause shortness of breath and coughing. However, in many individuals, no sensation of heartburn is felt, and their only symptom may be coughing.
Allergies, sinus problems, and postnasal drip can cause chronic cough, making the source of the issue difficult to pinpoint.
Sometimes, a CT scan of the sinuses or allergy testing is necessary for diagnosis.
Asthma is a disease of the lungs and trachea, resulting in difficulty breathing or wheezing.
Asthma symptoms can be aggravated by cold air, exposure to air pollutants or pollen, smoke, or perfumes. However, in some people with asthma, tests show normal lung function, and chronic cough is their only symptom. This is known as cough-variant asthma.
Infections caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, are often accompanied by coughing.
Sometimes, viral upper respiratory infections result in an extended cough even after the infection has cleared. This is known as a post-viral cough.
Certain medications, such as ACE inhibitors (Enalapril (Vasotec), Captopril (Capoten), etc.) used to treat high blood pressure can cause a chronic cough.
Less common causes of chronic cough include tumors (either benign or malignant), sarcoidosis, or other lung diseases. However, if chronic cough persists, it’s important for patients to schedule an evaluation to rule out serious conditions.