Real Stories of Living with Chronic Cough
People impacted by chronic cough shed light on the condition
What is chronic cough?
Coughing is normally a reflex your body uses to protect your airway when it’s irritated from things like excessive mucus, harmful irritants or other substances we can breathe in. In some people, that reflex may become disordered, leading to a persistent cough that may impact their health-related quality of life.
When this happens in adults, it may be a condition called chronic cough, which is defined as a cough lasting longer than eight weeks. People with the condition commonly cough in “bouts” they cannot control, and usually feel a strong urge to cough before a coughing bout starts.
Hear from Others About Chronic Cough
People impacted by chronic cough and a healthcare provider shed light on the condition
"For me, coughing can be an everyday thing, many times a day. And I’m constantly apologizing for something that I can’t control."
Shares her chronic cough story
"If somebody were to question the impact of chronic cough, I would suggest they spend some time in my shadow for a day, even half a day."
Shares his chronic cough story
"When I finally saw a doctor who told me I have chronic cough… I said to him, ‘You really listened to me."
Shares her chronic cough story
“It’s important that there’s increased awareness around chronic cough so people understand it’s a real medical condition and those with chronic cough can’t control their coughing.”
Dr. Warner Carr
Shares his perspective on chronic cough
CoughTracker Can Help Track and Record Your Cough
Coughing is one of the most common reasons people visit a doctor's office, but for some, it may be hard to explain how often or bad their cough is and how it impacts their life.
CoughTracker is a free, easy-to-use, healthy living app that can help track and record the number of times you cough. When used regularly, the app can provide you with details about potential patterns, sound characteristics and possible triggers of your cough, which you may not have noticed before. You can download this information, which is yours to share. Tracking details about your cough may help you have a productive discussion with your healthcare provider about your cough.
Download CoughTracker by visiting the Google Play or App Store:
Understanding Chronic Cough
Frequently Asked Questions
Who may be impacted by chronic cough?
Approximately 5% of adults in the United States live with chronic cough.
Both adult women and men can have chronic cough, though the condition is more likely to affect women. The typical person with chronic cough is a woman in her 50s.
How might chronic cough affect a person’s daily life?
Chronic cough may impact a person’s physical, social and emotional well-being. People living with chronic cough may feel embarrassed or frustrated about their cough in social settings. Sometimes the cough may interfere with talking, daily activities and social gatherings. It can also lead people to experience depressive feelings.
Those with chronic cough may also experience:
- Physical exhaustion
- Stress urinary incontinence
- Sleep disturbances
How is chronic cough diagnosed?
Evaluation of chronic cough can take time and people may see a healthcare provider many times. Typically, a person starts with a primary care provider, who will begin by taking a complete medical history and physical exam. If the provider is unable to determine the cause of the cough, they may refer the person to a specialist, such as a pulmonologist, an allergist, an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT), or an esophagus/stomach specialist (gastroenterologist). These specialists may perform additional tests, such as chest x-rays, throat swabs, blood samples and more if needed.
Resources Available to You
Chronic cough may be challenging. If you have chronic cough:
- Talk to your healthcare provider – have an open conversation with them about chronic cough and how it may be impacting you.
- Download CoughTracker, a free and easy-to-use healthy living app that can help track and record how often you cough.
- Visit our advocacy partners’ websites, the American Lung Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the Allergy & Asthma Network to learn more about chronic cough.