A chronic cough can be more than just a nuisance. It can be a sign of other conditions such as asthma or postnasal drip, and can effect your health including sleep.
Coughing is a normal reaction to things that irritate your lungs. Coughing helps to clear away phelgm, pollution, and other irritants from your airways. In 2015, Chicago air pollution reached elevated levels for a total of 151 days, which increases our risk of asthma attacks and other cough for our city residents (1).
But if your cough is lasting too long, it can be a sign of other problems. When a cough lasts longer than 6 to 8 weeks, we consider this chronic cough. And the continuous coughing itself can put a lot of stress on your body and lead to further problems. It can cause your vocal cords to be over exerted, it can lead to hernias, and it can harm your social life and quality of sleep.
Post-nasal drip is one common cause of chronic cough. Many people describe post-nasal drip as the sensation of something drarining down the back of the throat. The challenge in treating this condition is that there are a variety of different things that can cause post-nasal drip. In fact, we often find that people have more than one condition causing post-nasal drip.
Asthma and acid-reflux disease are two other common causes of chronic cough. Sometimes, there are medications used to treat high blood pressure than can cause chronic cough as a side effect. These medications are called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-inhibitors).
If you have a cough that is affecting your quality of life, you should consider seeing one of our specialists at Chicago Allergy & Asthma. We have advanced training and equipment in our facility to better diagnose and treat several conditions associated with chronic cough.
(1) Environment Illinois Research and Policy Center. "Our Health at Risk: Why Are Millions of Americans Still Breathing Unhealthy Air?" Spring 2017