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Food and nutrition

Why Is my Cough Persisting?

Why Is my Cough Persisting?

Coughing is a normal means of clearing mucous from the lungs and bronchial tubes. However, cough can be a sign of infection or irritation and, if it persists, should be evaluated by a physician.

What‘s the purpose of coughing?

When something blocks your bronchial tubes (lung passages), a reflex is triggered that produces a cough to clear the obstruction. The obstruction could be mucous caused by infection or inflammation, or some incorrectly swallowed food. In this case, coughing is a normal and healthy reaction.

Coughing can also be due to irritation. In that case, the reflex is triggered without there being anything to clear.

What are the possible causes of a persistent cough?

The causes of a cough may vary depending on whether it is dry or wet, occurring in the morning or at night and whether it is provoked by an activity or an allergy.

It is common for a cough to accompany an infection of the airways (bronchitis, sinusitis) but if it persists for several weeks after the infection has cleared, you should consult your doctor..

If you are a smoker and develop a persistent cough, you should consult your doctor.

Allergies to dust, mould, or pollens can produce a persistent cough.

Reflux of stomach acid (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can cause a cough.

Cough with exercise or at night can be a sign of asthma.

Cough associated shortness of breath on exertion and ankle swelling can be a sign of heart failure.

Some medications can cause a cough. If you start to cough after beginning a new medication, you should notify your doctor.

How should my cough be treated?

It is important to determine the cause of your cough so that it can be treated appropriately. The treatment will vary depending on the cause which is why you should consult with your physician.

There are many possible causes for a persistent cough. It is important to consult a physician who will determine its cause and treat the problem appropriately. 

Publication date:   5/17/10

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