Sure, we all cough from time to time, and there is usually nothing highly disturbing about it. Especially if cough is a residual condition after the flu or some type of respiratory disease you’re recovering from. However, if a cough appears on its own and lasts eight weeks or longer in adults, or over four weeks in children, it’s time to see a specialist. A chronic cough might not seem like such an inconvenience, but often it’s an indicator of a more serious underlying condition.
Why Is My Chronic Cough An Issue?
1. First of all, a persistent cough might be an indicator of another more serious pulmonary problem like bronchitis or even lung cancer, for example. If ignored, it will often bring up more damaging symptoms.
2. In addition to being a nuisance, a chronic cough can also provoke your nervous system. Having a constant cough causes you to lose large volumes of carbon dioxide that is a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system. You don’t want that to happen because, with low volumes of carbon dioxide, your airways will get irritated and sensitive. In addition, this may result in fatigue, anxiety, sleep, difficulty concentrating, etc.
3. Left undiagnosed, a chronic cough can easily transform into asthma. When your carbon dioxide levels are low, as they often are in patients with a chronic cough, airways spasms are more likely to happen and cause an asthma attack.
4. Unsurprisingly, one common symptom in patients with a chronic cough is headaches. When coughing, you increase the pressure in your head, which is called “Valsalva’s maneuver”. Too much pressure can damage your middle ear and cause a headache.
Why Is My Chronic Cough Not Improving?
- Your Airways Are Irritated: What a vicious circle - your constant cough causes the airways to get irritated, swollen, and highly sensitive…which causes more coughing. Thankfully the right treatment can help put an end to the cycle!
- Other Health Problems Are Causing Your Cough: You’ve read it already, we know…but it’s very important, and we want you to know this! If a cough is not improving, it may mean there is a serious condition that needs to be treated first. There is a whole list of problems that a persistent cough might indicate, so make sure you visit a pulmonary specialist to determine the real reason behind your chronic cough.
- You’re Not Getting Enough Fluids: Failing to consume enough liquid when you’ve got a chronic cough will drastically decrease your ability to loosen the mucus in your airways, which is essential for a cough to dissolve. Always make sure to drink enough healthy liquids like water or tea in order to loosen the mucus and recover faster. Don't confuse healthy liquids with soft drinks, alcohol, or drinks with caffeine. These types of drinks will immediately dehydrate your body, making your cough even worse.
- You’re Exposed To Air That’s Either Too Dry Or Too Moist: If the air is too dry for you, it will irritate your airways and cause more coughing. On the other hand, if the air is too moist it might cause asthma and contribute to mold growth, which may cause a chronic cough as well. It’s all about finding the right balance!
When To See A Doctor?
Even if your chronic cough doesn’t really bother you, you still need to see a doctor if your cough persists for more than eight weeks or longer in adults, and over four weeks in children. If your cough bothers you already, don’t wait until it gets worse, make an appointment with a pulmonary specialist who can determine what’s causing your cough and provide an adequate treatment plan. In addition, if you experience fever, unexpected weight loss, lymph node swelling, blood-tinged phlegm, or wheezing and shortness of breath, please contact us immediately, as you might have a critical condition that can jeopardize your life.