A chronic cough is annoying and can disrupt your sleep and daily activities. Read on to learn more about the common causes of a chronic cough.
A chronic cough is one that lasts longer than 8 weeks in adults and longer than 4 weeks in children. A chronic cough is not a disease in itself, but rather, a symptom of another ongoing disorder.
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. In many individuals, no sensation of heartburn is felt and their only symptom may be cough.
Allergies, sinus problems and post nasal drip can cause chronic cough, which can be difficult to detect.
Sometimes 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.
Some asthma sufferers have chronic cough as their only symptom with normal lung function tests. This is termed cough-variant asthma.
Asthma symptoms can be aggravated by cold air, exposure to air pollutants or pollen, smoke, or perfumes.
Infections, caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungus, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, can cause coughing.
Sometimes, viral upper respiratory infections result in a extended cough even after the infection has cleared, termed a post-viral cough.
Certain medications, notably ACE inhibitors (Enalapril (Vasotec), Captopril (Capoten), etc.) used in treating high blood pressure, can cause chronic cough.
Less common causes can also include tumors, either benign or malignant, sarcoidosis, or other lung disease.
If chronic cough persists a patient should be evaluated by his or her doctor. It is important to rule out tumors, sarcoidosis, or other lung diseases and infections.