Coughing can be unpleasant at times, but it actually serves a useful purpose. When you cough, mucus and foreign substances come out of the airways, which can irritate the lungs. A cough can be a response to inflammation or illness.
Most coughs are short-lived. You get a cold or the flu, cough for a few days or weeks, and then start to feel better.
In most cases, the cough lasts for weeks, months, or even years. If you’re coughing for no apparent reason, you may have something serious going on.
A cough that lasts eight weeks or longer is called a chronic cough. Even chronic coughs are usually treatable. These can be caused by conditions such as post-nasal drip or allergies. Only in rare cases are they signs of cancer or other potentially life-threatening lung conditions.
A chronic cough can have a significant impact on your life. It can keep you up at night and distract you from work and social life. This is why you should see a doctor if you have a cough that lasts more than three weeks.
Causes of chronic cough
The most common causes of chronic cough are:
post nasal drops
Asthma, especially cough-like asthma, is the main symptom of cough.
acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
chronic bronchitis or other forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
infections such as pneumonia or acute bronchitis
ACE inhibitors, which are drugs used to treat high blood pressure
Less common causes of chronic cough include:
is an airway injury that causes inflammation and thickening of the walls of the bronchial tubes in the lungs.
Bronchiolitis is an infection and inflammation of the bronchial tubes and the small air passages in the lungs.
cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes thick secretions that damage the lungs and other organs
interstitial lung disease, a condition that causes scarring of the lung tissue
a bacterial infection called whooping cough
sarcoidosis consists of clusters of inflammatory cells called granulomas that form in the lungs and elsewhere in the body.
Other possible symptoms
In addition to coughing, other symptoms may appear depending on the cause. Common symptoms that often accompany a chronic cough include:
sensation of liquid dripping in the back of the throat
Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath
Chronic cough can cause the following problems.
dizziness or fainting
chest pain and discomfort
frustration and anxiety, especially if you don’t know the cause
loss of sleep
leakage of urine
More serious symptoms are rare, but see your doctor if you experience:
coughing up blood
short of breath
lose weight without trying
constant chest pain
Risk factors for chronic cough
If you smoke, you are more likely to have a chronic cough. Cigarette smoke can damage the lungs and cause diseases like COPD. People with weakened immune systems are more likely to get infections that cause a chronic cough.