Having a cough is typically a good signifier of some underlying health concern, which can be as simple as the common cold, or as dangerous as a lung disease or bronchiectasis. Whatever the reason, a cough is not something you should ignore.
Typically, there are two types of cough: a chronic cough and an acute cough. These two types of cough can indicate very different things, so we wanted to take the time to dive a little into the difference between the two, and explain the easy way in which you can tell the two apart.
Types Of Cough: Chronic Cough Vs. Acute Cough
The way to tell between a chronic cough and an acute cough is simple: a chronic cough describes coughs that last for over 4 weeks in adults (or over 8 weeks in children) and an acute cough is any cough lasting less than a month.
Acute coughs tend to be a typical symptom for common colds or even the flu, but with just a bit of treatment, they go away after a week or two. An acute cough will not last longer than 4 weeks so if you experience a cough that lasts for longer than a month, then you should seek medical attention.
Why Does A Chronic Cough Matter To My Health?
A chronic cough is usually an indication of a more serious underlying condition that requires medical attention. While a chronic cough is not a condition in itself, it is a symptom of conditions like asthma, GERD, respiratory infections, bronchiectasis (damaged airways), cystic fibrosis, and lung cancer.
All of these conditions require a medical diagnosis, not only to determine the underlying condition, but also to determine its severity and the right course of treatment.
Ignoring a chronic cough could result in any of the following:
Induce an asthma attack
Reduced oxygen reaching your vital organs
A worsened condition that can lead to complications needing emergency treatment
Types Of Treatments For A Chronic Cough
Once a pulmonary specialist has examined your cough, they will have to test to determine the underlying cause for a cough. The treatment chosen will be targeted toward the underlying cause. Some treatment methods may include:
Antihistamines, glucocorticoids, and decongestants for allergies and post-nasal drip
Inhaled asthma drugs: Glucocorticoids and bronchodilators will reduce inflammation and open up your airways.
Antibiotics: In cases of bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed.
Acid blockers: Acid reflux sufferers may require acid blockers or noninvasive surgery when lifestyle changes don't take resolve the problem.
Telling these two types of cough apart is pretty simple, but treating a chronic cough involves care and medical attention so don’t let it slip by, even if it doesn’t seem like much! Remember that a chronic cough is almost always a symptom of an underlying cause. If you or someone you know are suffering from a cough that has gone on for longer than a month, then it’s time to see a pulmonary specialist. To see one of our pulmonary specialists, simply contact us or book an appointment today!