While most coughs clear up within days, around 20 percent become chronic and some can persist for years. It’s important that any cough that has lasted for more than eight weeks is checked out by your GP. Here, with the help of experts, Angela Epstein looks at chronic coughs, their causes, and what treatment is available.
It’s the time of year we all start getting coughs. Most clear up within a few days, but if yours doesn’t, it could be the sign of something more serious.
Get Rid of Winter Dry Cough Dr Sharafat Ali
POST NASAL DRIP COUGH
SYMPTOMS: Irritating, tickly, or dry cough with a feeling of mucus or catarrh dripping down the throat. Can feel like there is a lump in the throat, eased by continually clearing it. It may last for years and cause the throat to become sore and swollen. Accounts for 7 percent of coughs.
CAUSE: The glands which line the nose and sinuses produce up to four pints of clear thin mucus a day. Little hairs in the sinuses usually brush mucus down the throat – this happens without us realizing it. An allergy, hayfever, or a cold can make mucus thick and sticky. Instead of draining normally, it drips down the throat, obstructing the airways, causing a coughing reflex.
TREATMENT: If it’s due to an allergy, such as an allergy to dust, a steroid nasal spray will ease the inflammation causing the drip. If caused by sinusitis – acute inflammation of the sinuses – antibiotics can help. Applying drops of a specially prepared salt solution up the nose may provide relief.
To administer them, ensure your head is down and forward so the liquid flows into the sinuses – tilting your head back sends them straight to your stomach.
ACID REFLEX COUGH
SYMPTOMS: A loud, harsh cough. The voice may become hoarse. Tends to occur after meals or at night; lying down allows acid to travel up the food pipe from the stomach. Talking, laughing or singing are triggers because they involve the diaphragm, which plays a part in controlling the reflux. Other symptoms are a lump in the throat and a bitter taste in the mouth.
CAUSE: One in ten Britons experiences acid reflux at some point in their lives. It’s caused when a valve at the bottom of the gullet (esophagus) fails to close properly so that acid from the stomach splashes – or ‘refluxes’ – back up the throat.
Most people associate heartburn with a burning sensation in the chest – but this doesn’t always occur, and they may not realize their cough is a symptom of heartburn. The cough occurs because the lining of the food pipe is extremely sensitive, and the acid irritates it and triggers a cough.
TREATMENT: Antacids and proton pump inhibitors reduce acid production in the stomach. Avoid large, fatty meals and bedtime snacks, and reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake. It can also be treated with keyhole surgery. dailymail