Why You Shouldn’t Ignore That Persistent Cough

Are you fed up with a nagging cough that just won’t go away? A cough that lasts a couple days may be no more than a minor annoyance, but what about a cough that lasts for over eight weeks? Not only are these fits of coughing irritating or even painful, but they could be indicative of an underlying condition. In this brief article, Ravikanth Vydyula, M.D, a lung specialist in Tampa, covers what defines chronic cough, the possible causes, and the treatment options available to you.

What Defines Chronic Cough?

Any cough that lasts eight weeks or longer in adults can be considered a chronic cough, in comparison to an acute cough that lasts three weeks or less. Chronic cough is accompanied by a wide variety of additional symptoms, including:

  • Hoarseness
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Sore throat
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal drainage
  • Trouble sleeping

If you are currently suffering from chronic cough, it’s important to consult with a lung doctor in Tampa who can perform an examination to ascertain the cause of your cough, determine if any associated symptoms are occurring alongside your cough, and recommend the appropriate treatment. 

What Are the Possible Causes?

Like many conditions, the possible causes of chronic cough can be broken down into common and uncommon causes. The common causes include an assortment of conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Postnasal drip 
  • Treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Respiratory infection, such as tuberculosis (TB)
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Whereas the less common causes range from laryngopharyngeal reflux to lung cancer. That’s why it’s essential to have your chronic cough examined by a pulmonologist, particularly when your cough is accompanied by more worrying symptoms, such as weight loss, fever, or coughing up blood. 

What Treatment Options Are Available?

The first and most important step in treating chronic cough is determining the underlying cause. For example, if your chronic cough is a result of ACE inhibitors, then your doctor will most likely recommend that you discontinue your use of ACE inhibitors and switch to a different type of medication. If your chronic cough stems from allergies or postnasal drip, then you may be prescribed antihistamines or decongestants. 

The treatment options will ultimately depend on the suspected cause; however, over-the-counter medications are not typically recommended because they address the symptoms rather than the cause itself. If you are suffering from chronic cough, consult with a lung specialist in Tampa today who can work to address the cause as well as the symptoms you are experiencing. 


To schedule a consultation with Ravikanth Vydyula, M.D., a lung doctor in Tampa, please request an appointment today.

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