Symptoms of Chronic CoughIn addition to a persistent cough, you may also experience accompanying symptoms such as:
- Congested or runny nose
- Postnasal drip (mucus running down the back of your throat)
- Shortness of breath or chest tightness
- A hoarse voice, sore throat, and/or frequent throat-clearing
- Heartburn, acid reflux, or in more severe cases, vomiting
- Sleep disruption
- Vomiting, nausea
- Excessive sweating
- Urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control)
- Fractured ribs
- Syncope (passing out, fainting)
Causes of Chronic CoughAlthough an occasional cough here and there is completely normal, a cough that continues daily for weeks can be a sign you are suffering from an underlying medical problem. In many cases, there may be one or more causes involved. Common causes, either alone or in combination, that may be responsible for your chronic cough include:
- Postnasal drip (upper airway cough syndrome). When your nose or sinuses produce excessive mucus, it can drip down the back of your throat, causing you to cough.
- Asthma. An asthma-related cough may come and go depending on the time of year as certain allergens increase or decrease. It may also appear after an upper respiratory tract infection or after exposure to cold air or certain chemicals or fragrances. Cough-variant asthma is a type of asthma where coughing is the main symptom.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that restricts airflow from the lungs. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are most readily seen in patients with COPD, both of which can contribute to a chronic, productive cough.
- Infections. A cough can linger long after the other symptoms of your infection resolve. This is seen primarily in patients with pneumonia, the flu, a cold, or other upper respiratory tract infections. Chronic cough can also be attributed to whooping cough (pertussis), tuberculosis (TB), or lung infection with fungus or nontuberculous organisms.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This is a common condition that is often seen in addition to postnasal drip. In GERD, stomach acid can escape the stomach and travel up your esophagus. This irritation leads to chronic coughing, which can, in turn, worsen your GERD.
- Blood pressure drugs. ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme) can also be culprits of chronic cough in some people.
- Aspiration (food or foreign bodies going into the trachea)
- Bronchiectasis (damaged, dilated airways)
- Bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways of the lung)
- Cystic fibrosis (a genetic disease that affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat, and digestive juices)
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux (somewhat like GERD, but stomach acid flows up into the throat)
- Lung cancer
- Non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis
- Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells that may accumulate in the lungs)
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (chronic scarring of the lungs due to an unknown cause)
Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic CoughA chronic cough can be the result of a wide variety of underlying causes or conditions. Your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms and perform a physical exam. Your doctor may also order tests to determine the cause of your chronic cough. If your doctor suspects one or more underlying causes for your chronic cough, they may forgo expensive tests and start you on a personalized plan of care and observe your symptoms over a short period of time.
Next stepsIf you are interested in further discussion about your specific needs, Dr. Reshamwala is happy to see you and answer any questions you may have. Please call 512-382-1933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment today! Book an appointment
Written by: Dr. Neha Reshamwala
NPI number: 1780874578
Page last reviewed: 03/20/21