Everybody coughs. You may sometimes do it voluntarily to clear your throat of any obstructions. It can also be an involuntary reflex, especially when your throat gets irritated during infections, allergies, or environmental factors like smoke. However, sometimes you might have a persistent cough.
Notice Persistent Cough
The occasional cough should not cause you much alarm, more so when it is part of conditions like the common cold, allergies, and pneumonia. People tend to experience these every now and then throughout the year, so having a sniffle or two with a cough may not be a reason to panic. However, when your cough persists for more than a few days and recurs frequently, this may point to a more serious underlying condition.
Chronic Cough Symptoms
A chronic cough lasts for longer than eight weeks in adults or four weeks in children. For instance, a cough or two is just a minor nuisance. However, this type of longstanding cough can substantially lower your quality of life. It affects your sleep, day to day routines, and even lowers your energy levels. Here are some signs and symptoms to watch out for that might point to a chronic cough:
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip, or a feeling of liquid dripping down the back of your throat
- Shortness of breath
- Heartburn or a sour taste in your mouth
What Causes Chronic Cough?
Chronic cough can be a part of numerous disease entities, but these causes of chronic cough are the most common:
- Asthma – this results in shortness of breathing and wheezing that, over time, can lead to a chronic cough
- Bronchiectasis – mucus tends to thicken and build up in your lungs, making it harder to expel
- Bronchitis – chronic cough is brought about by the inflammation and swelling of the bronchial tubes, as well as increased mucus production
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – this is a combination of bronchitis and emphysema
- Upper respiratory conditions (flu, pneumonia, colds) – viral infections that lead to prolonged coughing
I Have Persistent Cough. When Should I Consult a Doctor?
You can readily manage your typical run-of-the-mill cough at home with plenty of fluids and over-the-counter medicines. However, if you demonstrate any of these warning symptoms, it may be time to see a doctor:
- Fever, especially if high or prolonged
- Copious sputum production
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Weight loss
- Weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite
- Chest pain caused by something other than the cough
- Night sweats
Dealing With a Chronic Cough
Do not panic if your cough lasts longer than several weeks. However, you should also not be too complacent. You can assess and treat yourself, especially if you are familiar with the factors that trigger your cough. If you experience any of the warning symptoms listed above or suspect you might have COVID-19, consult your doctor. In this case, you should isolate yourself and contact your doctor.