Understanding Chronic Cough
Coughing is normally a reflex the body uses to protect the airway when it’s irritated from things like excessive mucus, harmful irritants or other substances we can breathe in.
Chronic cough may impact people in different ways:
- Interference with daily activities
- Speech interference
- Physical exhaustion
- Sleep disturbances
- Stress urinary incontinence
Chronic cough is commonly associated with other health conditions, such as:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis
Upper airway cough syndrome
In some patients, chronic cough may be characterized as
refractory chronic cough (RCC), a cough that may be related to other health conditions that doesn’t go away after appropriate treatment, or unexplained chronic cough (UCC), a cough that persists when another health condition associated with cough cannot be found, despite thorough investigation.
Investigation of chronic cough
can take time as health care professionals must determine whether a patient’s cough is caused by other health conditions, and if one is identified, to properly treat the condition.
A doctor’s perspective on chronic cough
“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, FAAAAI, FACAAI
Specialist in allergy and immunology
Frequently Asked Questions
How do health care providers investigate chronic cough?
Your health care provider may refer you to be evaluated by specialists. These could include a pulmonologist, an allergist, an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT), or an esophagus/stomach specialist (gastroenterologist).
How may a health care provider determine if I have chronic cough?
Your health care provider may ask you questions about your medical history, perform a physical exam and complete tests.
What types of tests may a health care provider perform?
A health care provider may perform tests, which include a chest X-ray, CT scan or breathing test.