Chronic cough usually disappears after treating its underlying cause. This post explains chronic cough treatment and causes.
Chronic cough is a cough that lasts eight weeks or more in adults and four weeks in children. Chronic cough is more than just a feeling of annoyance, so it can disturb your sleep and cause fatigue. Fortunately, chronic cough usually disappears after treatment for its underlying cause. For more information on the causes of chronic cough and chronic cough treatment at home, continue reading this article.
For chronic cough treatment at home, it is important to eliminate underlying causes.
What Causes Chronic Cough?
Various factors can cause chronic cough and sometimes more than one factor may be responsible. Severe cases of chronic cough can cause vomiting, dizziness and even rib fractures. While it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the causes of cough, the most common causes, however, are tobacco use, runny nose, asthma and acid reflux.
Common Causes of Chronic Cough
Some common causes of chronic cough include:
Chronic bronchitis causes chronic inflammation of the airways which can cause coughing. It can be part of an airway disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that typically occurs as a side effect of smoking.
Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
It occurs when the acid returns from the stomach to the throat. The result can be a chronic throat irritation that can lead to cough.
Secondary effects of prolonged infection
If a person is infected with a severe infection such as pneumonia or the flu, they may still experience long-term secondary effects, such as chronic cough. Even if most of their symptoms are resolved, the airways can still remain inflamed for some time.
Asthma occurs when the person’s upper airways become sensitive, especially to cold air, irritants, or exercise. One type of asthma is known as cough-variant asthma, which causes cough.
Nasal sputum or accumulation of secretions behind the pharynx
Also known as airway cough syndrome, it occurs as a result of chronic sputum from the nose to the throat. It stimulates the throat and causes cough reflexes.
Blood pressure lowering drugs
Medications known as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEs) can cause chronic cough in some people. These capsules include benazepril, captopril and ramipril.
Less common causes of chronic cough
Some of the less common causes of chronic cough include:
Aspiration is a medical term when food or saliva comes down through the air instead of the food tube. This extra fluid can collect bacteria or viruses and may cause airway irritation. Aspiration can sometimes lead to pneumonia.
Excessive mucus production can make the airways larger than normal.
Bronchiolitis is a common disease that affects children. This condition is caused by a virus that causes inflammation of the bronchioles (small airways in the lungs).
Cystic fibrosis causes excessive mucus in the lungs and airways which can cause chronic cough.
Sometimes coughing and shortness of breath can be symptoms of heart disease or failure. This is called heart cough. The person with the condition may notice that his cough worsens when they are lying flat.
Persistent cough can rarely be a sign of lung cancer. The person with the condition may also experience chest pain as well as blood in their sputum.
It is an inflammatory disease that causes inflammation of the lungs, lymph nodes, eyes and skin.
Other possible symptoms of chronic cough
Depending on the cause, you may have other symptoms along with the cough. Common symptoms that are often associated with chronic cough are:
- Feeling flooded in the back of the throat
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Shortness of breath
Chronic cough can also cause the following problems:
- Vertigo or fever
- Chest pain and discomfort
- Frustration and anxiety, especially if you don’t know the cause of the cough
- Urinary incontinence
The following serious symptoms rarely occur, but if you see any of these, see your doctor:
- Blood cough
- Night sweats
- High fever
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss without any attempt
- Persistent chest pain
When should I see a doctor for chronic cough?
Chronic cough can make your situation emergency. If a person experiences the following symptoms with chronic cough, they should contact the emergency department:
- Fever higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath or bouts of struggle in the chest
If chronic cough has an impact on one’s daily activities, it is often necessary to have a further examination by a physician for chronic cough treatment. Other symptoms that may mean you need to see a doctor include:
- Too much cough with phlegm
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Risk Factors for Chronic Cough
Being a smoker or smoking cigarette is one of the most important risk factors for chronic cough at present. Repeated exposure to a smoker can also lead to coughing and lung damage.
Complications of chronic cough
Persistent cough can be frustrating and can cause a variety of problems, including:
- Sleep disorders
- Excessive sweating
- Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence)
- Broken ribs
Diagnosis of chronic cough
For chronic cough treatment, the doctor will ask for a history of your illness and will examine you. A complete medical history and physical examination can provide important clues to chronic cough. Your doctor may also do tests to determine the cause of your chronic cough.
However, many physicians decide to start chronic cough treatment by considering the major causes of chronic cough instead of offering expensive tests,. If treatment is not effective, you may be tested for less common causes of cough.
Chronic cough imaging tests
Although routine chest X-ray radiation does not show the most common causes of cough, i.e. runny nose, acid reflux or asthma, it may be used to screen for lung cancer, pneumonia and other lung diseases. X-rays of your sinuses may show evidence of sinus infection.
Computed tomography (CT) scan
Your physician may also use CT scans to examine the lungs in situations where chronic cough or sinus cavities may form infectious sacs.
Lung Function Test
These simple, noninvasive tests, such as spirometry, are used to diagnose asthma and COPD. They measure how much air your lungs can hold and how fast you can exhale.
Your doctor may also consider an asthma challenge test, which will determine how much you can breathe before and after inhaling the drug Provocholine.
If the mucus that you cough is colored, your doctor may test it to check for existing bacteria.
If your doctor is unable to find an explanation for your cough, you may need special scoping tests to look for possible causes. These tests may include:
Using a thin, flexible tube equipped with light and a camera (bronchoscope), the doctor can examine the lungs and air passages of the air. Also, biopsy can be taken from the inner part of the airways (mucosa) to check for abnormalities.
Your doctor will be able to observe your nasal passages, sinuses, and upper airways using a fiber-opticoscope (rhinoscope).
Chronic cough in children
Sometimes one x-ray and spirometry is usually recommended to find out the cause of chronic cough in children.
Chronic cough treatment
Determining the cause of chronic cough is effective in chronic cough treatment. In many cases, more than one underlying disease can cause a person’s chronic cough. If you are a smoker, your doctor will ask you to quit and this will help. If you are taking ACE inhibitors, your doctor may recommend another medicine that does not cause cough. Medications used for chronic cough treatment may include:
Antihistamines, corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
These drugs are the standard treatment for allergies and a runny nose.
Inhaled asthma medications
The most effective ways to treat asthma-related cough are corticosteroids and bronchodilators that reduce inflammation and open your airways.
If your bacterial, fungal or microbial infection causes your chronic cough, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat the infection.
When lifestyle changes cannot prevent acid reflux, you may be treated with anti-acids. Some people need surgery to fix this problem.
Dietary changes for acid reflux
Acid reflux is a common cause of cough. Avoiding foods that can cause acid reflux is one of the best ways to manage the disease and reduce the cough associated with it. Each person may have different stimulants for acid reflux that should be avoided. People who are unsure of the cause of their reflux can start treatment by eliminating the most common dietary triggers and monitoring their symptoms. Foods and beverages that commonly cause acid reflux include:
- Fried and fatty foods
- Garlic and onion
- Spices and spicy foods
- Tomato and tomato based products
Cough suppressors for chronic cough treatment
While your doctor is examining the cause of your cough and starting treatment, you may be prescribed cough suppressants to help relieve your symptoms. Prescription cough and cold medications are intended to treat the symptoms, not the underlying disease. Research has shown that these drugs do not work better than inactive placebo drugs. Most importantly, these drugs have the potential for serious side effects, such as in overdose, in children younger than 2 years.
Do not use over-the-counter medications except for fever and pain reliever to treat cough and cold in children under 6 years. Also, do not use these medications in children under 12 years of age.
Lifestyle recommendations and home remedies for chronic cough treatment
Follow the plan your doctor has to treat the cause of your coughs. In the meantime, you can try the following tips to reduce your cough:
Drink plenty of fluids.
Fluid intake helps to thin your throat mucosa. Hot liquids like tea and juices can soothe your throat.
Cough drops or sucking cold candy.
They may reduce dry cough and soothe your irritated throat.
Honey consumption for chronic cough treatment at home
Taking a teaspoon of pure honey may help relieve your cough. Do not give honey to children younger than 1 year because honey can contain bacteria that are harmful to infants.
Ginger as a home remedy for chronic cough treatment
Ginger may reduce dry cough or asthma because it has anti-inflammatory properties. It may also relieve nausea and pain. One study found that some anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger can relax the airway membranes, which can reduce cough. Researchers have mainly studied the effects of ginger on human and animal cells, so further research is needed.
A relaxing ginger tea is achieved by adding 20 to 40 grams of fresh ginger slices to a cup of hot water. Allow it to remain for a few minutes before it is used. Add honey or lemon juice to ginger to make it taste better and relieve cough. Note that in some cases, ginger tea can cause stomach upset or heartburn.
Humidify the air for chronic cough treatment at home
You can use a cold humidifier or steam bath for natural chronic cough treatment at home.
Wet cough, which is a mucus or sputum builder, can be treated with steam. Take a shower or bath with warm water and let the bath be full of steam. Stay in this steam for a few minutes until your symptoms subside, then drink a glass of water to cool down and prevent dehydration.
Another way for chronic cough treatment at home is to make a steam bowl. To do this, fill a large bowl with hot water. Add herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus or rosemary, which can help ease your congestion. At the top of the bowl, place a towel over your head. This traps the steam. Inhale this steam for 5 minutes. If the steam burns your skin, stop the proces until your skin is cool.
People with wet cough or chest cramps may also use a home-based humidifier or incinerator.
Marshmallow root for chronic cough treatment
Marshmallow root is a plant that has a long history of being used as home remedies for cough and sore throat. Due to its high mucilage content, this plant can reduce cough irritation. Mucilage is a thick, sticky material that covers the throat. A small study showed that cough syrup containing marshmallow root, along with thyme and ivy, reduces coughs caused by colds and respiratory tract infection. 90% of participants in the consumption of the syrup, after 12 days of use, rated it as good or very good.
Marshmallow root is also available as a dried herb or sachet. Add warm water and then drink it immediately or let it cool first. The more the root of the plant is soaked in water, the more mucilage it will have in the drink. Side effects can include stomach upset, but you can counteract it by drinking extra water. Visit online health stores to buy marshmallow root.
Thyme as a home remedy for chronic cough treatment
Thyme is both medicinal and used as a spice and is a common treatment for cough, sore throat, bronchitis, and gastrointestinal problems. One study found that cough syrup consisting of thyme and ivy leaves relieves cough better and faster than placebo in people with acute bronchitis. The antioxidants in this plant may be responsible for its benefits. To treat cough using thyme, look for cough syrup that contains this herb. Alternatively, make thyme tea by adding 2 tablespoons of dried thyme to a cup of hot water. Wait for 10 minutes before drinking this tea.
Salt water gargle for chronic cough treatment at home
This simple remedy is one of the most effective treatments for sore throat and wet cough. Salt water reduces sputum and mucus in the back of the throat which can reduce the need for cough. Add half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and stir to dissolve. Allow the solution to cool slightly before use it to gargle. Gargle this mixture in the back of your throat for a few moments before pouring out. Gargle with salt water several times a day to improve your cough. Avoid giving salt water to young children as they may not be able to gargle properly. Swallowing salt water can be dangerous.
Bromelain is an enzyme produced from pineapples and is very abundant in the fruit core. Bromelain has anti-inflammatory properties and may also be mucolytic, meaning it can break down the mucosa and remove it from the body. Some people drink pineapple juice daily for cough suppression. However, there may not be enough bromelain in the juice to relieve symptoms.
Existing bromelain supplements may be effective in relieving cough. However, it is best to talk to your doctor before trying new supplements. You may be allergic to bromelain, and the plant can also cause side effects and interfere with medications. People who take blood thinners or certain antibiotics should not take bromelain.
Slippery elm tea for chronic cough treatment at home
Native Americans have traditionally used slippery elm bark to treat cough and digestive problems. Slippery elm is similar to marshmallow root because it contains large amounts of glaze, which helps relieve sore throat and cough. Add 1 tbsp of dried herbs to a cup of hot water to make slippery red elm tea. Soak it for at least 10 minutes before drinking. It is important to note that slippery elm can interfere with drug absorption. Slippery elm are available in powder and capsule form at health stores and online stores.
NAC is another supplement made from amino acid L-cysteine. Its daily dose may reduce the frequency and severity of wet cough by reducing mucus in the airways. A meta-analysis of 13 studies suggests that NAC can significantly reduce symptoms in people with chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a long-term inflammation of the airways that causes mucus, cough and other symptoms.
Researchers recommend a daily dose of 600 mg NAC for people with no airway obstruction and 1200 mg if they are blocked. NAC can have severe side effects, including hives, swelling, fever, and difficulty breathing. Anyone considering this method should first talk to their doctor.
Avoid tobacco smoke
Smoking or breathing cigarette smoke can irritate your lungs and can worsen coughs caused by other factors. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit.
Probiotics do not directly relieve cough, but they can boost the immune system by balancing the bacteria in the gut. A superior immune system can help fight infections or allergies that may cause cough. According to research, a type of probiotic – a bacterium called Lactobacillus – has a moderate advantage in preventing the common cold. Supplements containing Lactobacillus and other probiotics are available at health stores and pharmacies. Some foods are also naturally rich in probiotics, including:
- Miso soup
- Natural yogurt
- Sour cabbage
However, the number and variety of probiotic units in foods can vary widely. In addition to eating probiotic-rich foods, it is advisable to take probiotic supplements.