Dealing with persistent cough: What does it indicate?

Fact Checked

A persistent cough is a usual symptom that has various causes. The bothersome effects of coughing such as sore chest muscles, lack of sleep and leaking of urine can affect the quality of life and disrupt with daily activities.

It is important to initially note that a persistent cough does not necessarily mean that the individual should worry about lung cancer. There are various likely causes of this symptom but since cancer of the lung is often overlooked in some cases, it is vital to bear this likelihood in mind even if you believe that there is a good clarification for the symptoms.

Close look on a persistent cough

A persistent cough is one that lasts for 8 weeks or longer. The cough is usually dry or productive. It simply means that the individual may or may not cough up mucus.

What are the possible causes?

  • Postnasal drip due to hay fever, nasal polyps, sinus infections or other conditions
  • Asthma often have other symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Acid reflux due to gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common cause for a persistent cough that is usually overlooked. In some individuals, the usual symptoms such as heartburn might not be present and the only symptom is the chronic cough.
    Persistent cough
    The bothersome effects of coughing such as sore chest muscles, lack of sleep and leaking of urine can affect the quality of life and disrupt with daily activities.

Other usual causes include smoking, infection, eosinophilic bronchitis and even certain medications particularly drugs utilized to manage high blood pressure and heart diseases.

When to consult a doctor

It is vital to set an appointment with a doctor if the individual has a persistent cough, even if it is believed to be triggered by continued smoking or allergies. A doctor should be consulted right away if the individual experiences chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath or coughing up blood.

Evaluation

Depending on the harshness of the cough, the doctor will initially control the symptoms to make the individual feel more comfortable. Tests are requested to determine the exact cause. The usual tests that might be requested include the following:

  • History and physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray to check for infection or evidence of a tumor
  • Allergy tests
  • CT scan of the chest or sinuses
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Esophageal pH testing
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Bronchoscopy

Management

The treatment for persistent cough usually depends on the underlying cause as well as the degree in which the cough disrupts with daily activities at home or at work.

If an individual has persistent cough, it is vital to have it checked. Remember that a chronic cough is not considered normal. Most of the causes where some are hard to diagnose require treatment. The treatment might be more effective if these conditions are discovered earlier.

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