Cough is a symptom or a solitary sign of disease(mostly of lung, heart or nervous system). It can be classified according to the duration(how long it lasts) of its endurance and other peculiar characteristics:
- Acute cough: Sudden, lasting from few days up to 3 weeks.
- Sub-acute cough: It may last between 3-8 weeks.
- Chronic cough: The duration of the endurance of chronic cough is 8 weeks or more.
- Productive cough: The cough that brings up phlegm/mucus.
- Dry cough: The cough that does not bring up phlegm/mucus.
- Nocturnal cough: The irritating cough that only happens at night during sleep hours.
- Hemoptysis: The presence of blood with or during cough.
A cough lasting for a longer period of more than eight weeks is exhausting as well as a botheration. It can annoy children or an adult.
A chronic cough can interfere with your sleep and leave you feeling consumed. In severe cases, symptoms like headache, vomiting, dizziness and even rib fractures can impose with a chronic cough.
Signs and symptoms may include:
- A runny nose
- A feeling of a plugged up the nasal passage
- A feeling of postnasal drip
- The frequent appearance of sore throat
- Hoarseness of voice
- Difficulty in breathing
- Heartburn with a sour taste in the mouth
- Blood with the cough
Causes of a chronic cough include the following
A cough is normal and healthy for the body when it is an occasional cough. It helps to clear out the irritants and secretions from airways and prevents infection. However, Its a nuisance when it is a regular thing and lasts for longer. The various cause is participating in the majority of cases of a chronic cough. The following causes alone or in combination implicate the problem pinpointing a chronic cough.
- Upper airway cough syndrome: During a postnasal drip all the extra mucus from nose and sinuses drip down the back of the throat, triggering the cough reflex. When this process keeps happening and the cough becomes frequent it is called an upper airway cough syndrome.
- Asthma. A cough is the main symptom of upper respiratory tract disease. With a change of season asthma can come and go, and so is the related cough.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Due to continuous flow of acid back to the throat can lead to irritation of the linings of throat and nose producing a vicious cycle of a reflex cough. It is a common symptom in people suffering from GERD.
- Infections. A cough can linger long due to an infection multiplying in the tracts of the upper respiratory system. A common but under-recognized cause is pertussis, also known as whooping cough, other is tuberculosis (TB) a fungal infection.
- COPD: The inflammation of the airway and lungs, which causes chronic cough with phlegm and dyspnea. The conditions include emphysema, bronchitis.
- Medications: ACE inhibitors, can cause a dry chronic cough.
- Lung cancer: Cancer of the lung or cancer that spread from other organs can lead to cough, often with blood.
- Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in an organ)
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (chronic scarring of the lungs due to an unspecified reason)
When to see a doctor
Visit your health planner if you have a cough that loiter for weeks, especially one with sputum or blood, or affecting the performance at school or work, troubling you with sleep and routine life.
Risk factors for developing a chronic cough are:
- A habitual smoker in the present or being exposed to secondhand smoke increases the risk factors for chronic cough.
- Frequent exposure to environmental pollution, dust, and smoke in workers surrounded by dust, chemicals, and toxins also can lead to coughing and lung damage.
- Suffering from a chronic lung disorder
- Female gender
Diagnosis & treatment
- Chest X-rays: Can help in ruling out infection and physiological anomaly.
- CT scan: Along with an x-ray CT scan can figure out infection, physiological abnormalities and can help to find any sign of cancer.
- Sputum culture: To check for bacteria and infection.
- Pulmonary function test: The tests are used to check the normal lung functioning and to diagnose COPD and certain other lung disorders.
- Bronchoscopy: To view the lining of the lower respiratory tract.
- Rhinoscopy: Used to view the inside of the nasal passages.
- Acid reflux test: To measure out the amount of acid present in the esophagus.
- Sleep-related problems including sleep apnoea, daytime sleepiness
- Foggy brain, difficulty in concentration at work and school
- Frequent headaches
- Dizziness and fainting
- Urinary incontinence
- Broken ribs in a rare case of intense cough activity
Management of chronic cough
- Keep your system hydrated. Drink lots of water. Add juice to your diet. Especially the warm liquids like tea and broth can have a soothing effect on the throat.
- Use a cough lozenge. Try chewing or sucking the lozenge.
- If acid reflux is the main reason for the cough, avoid overeating or eating just before sleep. Losing weight will also help.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer. It will add moisture to the air.
- A hot shower and taking the steam will provide relief.
- Avoid smoke and smoking.
Treatment for chronic cough
The best treatment for chronic cough just like any other disease is trying a management plan. When management fails medication is requisite
- Conventional treatment for chronic cough:
- H2 receptor blockers
- Proton pump inhibitors
Homeopathic treatment for chronic cough:
Alpha-CC: The tablet for a chronic spasmodic cough. Irritative cough which gets aggravated after lying down at night.
Tussistin: It a syrup used in the case of bronchitis in adults It is also used by people suffering from frequent attacks of dry tickling cough, catarrh with an accumulation of mucus in the air passage.