Persistent coughs and their causes

Have you ever had a persistent cough which does not seem to go away, no matter what you do? Well, that may be a chronic cough. Know its cause and you can banish them for good.

  • Asthma

Asthma is a chronic long-term lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways with attacks often occurring at night or early in the morning. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. During an asthma attack, in addition to the above symptoms, muscles around the airways constrict and mucus is produced, making it difficult to breathe. There is no cure for asthma and it can flare up at any time. However, with today’s knowledge and treatments, most people who have asthma are able to manage the disease. They have few, if any, symptoms. They can live normal, active lives and sleep through the night without interruption from asthma. Be sure to see your doctor to ensure you have the right medicine.

  • Bronchitis

If you have a wet cough that does not seem to go away and it comes with phlegm, which may be a sign of pneumonia or bronchitis. The phlegm can be green, yellow, white, creamy, clear or tinged with blood. If there are bits of green and yellow, the cough is probably viral and will likely not require antibiotics. However, if there are large amounts of colored phlegm and it comes with a fever and chest pains, you may have developed pneumonia, which needs to be treated with antibiotics and could be dangerous for older adults.

  • Psychological Cough

You may feel the need to clear the throat by coughing but there is nothing to clear. By thinking of your cough and/ or imagining a need to cough, you could end up coughing. These self-induced coughs could impact your daily lifestyle or social situations, say a conversation. Taking a throat lozenge, sweet or having a glass of water could help in the short term but the best long-term remedy would be to see a GP or psychologist to identify the triggers or causes.

  • Whooping Cough

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a bacterial infection that gets into your nose and throat and easily transmitted between adults and children. Symptoms include coughs in short, intense and explosive bursts. During a cough, you might also gasp for air, creating a whooping sound as the vocal cords spasm and make the ‘whoop’ noise. Adults could experience up to half a dozen coughing episodes in a day. Hence, the best remedy would be to see a doctor and get antibiotics to reduce the length and intensity of a cough.

  • Reflux

This dry cough occurs when food comes back up from the stomach and hits the back of the throat, causing you to cough. This happens when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus does not close well. The digested food refluxes back into the throat and causes a cough, especially when lying down. Remedies for this cough include sleeping on an extra pillow, refrain from eating 3 hours before bedtime and anti-reflux medication.


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