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 chronic cough. Chronic coughing is often a symptom or side effect of other issues such as allergies, asthma, acid reflux or sinus problems. This ongoing cough can be consistent for months, or even years, if untreated. Treatments will depend on the underlying cause of the cough, so it is 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 coughing, 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 backwards into the throat, with some of it dripping 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 causes chronic cough is usually caused by allergy or sinus issues. A good exam of the nose, throat, and vocal cords can usually confirm the diagnosis of post-nasal drainage as the cause of the cough.
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 some indigestion.
Mild asthma can cause a consistent cough, but it is almost always associated with the usual symptoms of asthma including some difficulty breathing or wheezing. A trial of a “rescue” inhaler prescribed for mild asthma can sometimes help in the diagnosis.
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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
Acute cough: An acute cough typically last up to about three weeks. This cough may be dry or produce mucous, but it is usually caused by cold, flu or infection of some kind.
Subacute cough: Subacute coughs often last between three to eight weeks. A subacute cough can heal on its own, but patients may want to see a doctor depending on the severity of symptoms.
Chronic cough: This cough lasts longer than eight weeks, and is often caused by smoking, post-nasal drip, reflux or asthma. This cough can involve multiple factors and can be 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 and keep down swelling or discomfort in the nose, will decrease the 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 can often help eliminate the cough stemming 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 with sinus issues causing their ongoing cough, such as a deviated septum or perforated septum, undergoing a simple in-office procedure to correct the issue and open up blocked sinuses can fix the problem.
Sometimes a combination of treatments may need to be done in order to permanently eliminate the cough and restore your quality of life.
Find Relief from Chronic Cough with ENT Experts
You, and those around 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 develop an effective treatment plan quickly. Meet with our experts now to find a lasting solution to your chronic coughing.