Chronic Cough Treatment in Denver, CO
An ongoing cough is a relatively common and very frustrating problem. We’ve helped many patients, even those who have tried different doctors and medicines unsuccessfully, find a lasting solution to their chronic cough symptoms.
What Is a Chronic Cough?
When a cough lasts longer than eight weeks, this is typically known as a chronic cough. Chronic coughing is often a symptom or side effect of other issues such as allergies, asthma, acid reflux, or sinus problems. Untreated, this persistent cough can last for months or even years. Treatment options will depend on the underlying cause of the cough, so it’s important to see an expert who can accurately determine the source of your chronic cough symptoms.
What Causes Chronic Coughing?
Beyond smoking, which is a very common cause of chronic bronchitis, there are three primary reasons for a chronic cough – postnasal drainage, acid reflux, and asthma.
Post-nasal drainage occurs when mucous created in the nose and sinuses drains back into the throat and drips onto the vocal cords. One of the vocal cords’ functions is to keep liquid out of the lungs, so they respond appropriately to this drainage by trying to cough it away. As long as phlegm from the nose and sinuses continues to drain backwards to the vocal cords, the coughing will continue. The postnasal draining that induces chronic cough is usually caused by an allergy or infection. A thorough examination of the nose, throat, and vocal cords can usually confirm the diagnosis of post-nasal drainage as the cause of the cough.
Acid Reflux (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)
A chronic cough caused by reflux happens when acid from the stomach travels up high enough that it spills onto the back ends of the vocal cords. The acid irritates the vocal cords, which respond by coughing. This is often accompanied by heartburn, an acidic or sour taste in the back of your throat, or indigestion.
Mild asthma can cause a consistent cough, but it is almost always associated with the usual symptoms of asthma, including difficulty breathing or wheezing. A trial of a “rescue” inhaler prescribed for mild asthma, as well as a handful of lung function tests, often help in the diagnosis.
Less commonly, chronic coughing stems from an underlying disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In some cases, a developing chronic cough could be a side effect of a blood pressure medication.
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How Allergy and Sinus Issues Cause Coughing
Any irritation inside the nose can cause drainage, which can cause coughing. Some of the most common reasons for drainage are allergies, sinusitis or infection, and a deviated septum. Other sinus problems such as enlarged turbinates, can also cause excess mucous or postnasal drainage, leading to chronic cough. Often, chronic coughing is caused by a combination of these factors which can make the diagnosis difficult. This is why most people with a chronic cough have gone for long periods of time and seen other doctors without finding a solution.
An expert ENT doctor will be able to find the root cause of the drainage, helping you determine which treatment will be the most effective to alleviate your cough. A CT scan of the sinuses and an allergy test will identify the source of the drainage, allowing a precise treatment plan to be developed.
Types of Sinus & Allergy-Related Coughs
Chronic cough is just one type of cough that can result from allergy and sinus symptoms. Short-term coughing such as acute and subacute coughs can also stem from or be worsened by postnasal drainage.
Acute cough: An acute cough typically lasts up to three weeks. This cough can be dry or produce mucous, and a cold, flu, or infection of some kind usually causes it.
Subacute cough: Subacute coughs often last between three and eight weeks. A subacute cough can heal on its own, but patients may want to see a doctor, depending on the severity of their symptoms.
Chronic cough: This cough lasts longer than eight weeks and is often caused by smoking, post-nasal drip, reflux, or asthma. An unexplained chronic cough can involve multiple factors, making it tougher to diagnose.
How to Get Rid of Sinus and Allergy-Related Coughs
Treating the underlying condition or root cause is the best way to reduce or eliminate chronic coughing.
Sometimes, an aggressive course of medicines, which are meant to reduce swelling or discomfort in the nose, will decrease drainage and allow the cough to resolve. When patients with allergies are treated to reduce their inflammation and other symptoms — for example, with antihistamines — this often helps to eliminate a cough that stems from postnasal drainage. Sometimes, more aggressive treatment of your allergies through allergy drops is all that is needed to eliminate the drainage, allowing the cough to go away.
If the underlying cause of your chronic cough is determined to be acid reflux, there are some very effective over-the-counter medicines for reflux that work by turning off the acid pumps in the stomach. Generic omeprazole is a relatively inexpensive and very safe option. If taken once a day for a month, it will often improve or eliminate a chronic cough caused by reflux.
For some people, sinus issues (such as deviated septum or perforated septum) are the cause of their ongoing cough. In these cases, a simple in-office procedure to correct the issue and open up blocked sinuses can fix the problem.
Sometimes, a combination of treatments may be the most effective way to permanently eliminate the cough and restore your quality of life.
Find Relief from Chronic Cough with ENT Experts
You don’t have to suffer from a chronic cough forever. Advanced ENT’s experts specialize in nose, sinus, and allergy issues, so we can identify the problem and quickly develop an effective treatment plan. Meet with our experts now to find a lasting solution to your chronic coughing.