Have coughing spells become a normal part of your day? Living with constant coughing can leave you feeling tired and dizzy. Determining the cause is an important step that will help your ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor find a treatment that will stop your chronic coughing.
What causes chronic coughing?
Chronic coughing can be caused by a variety of factors and illnesses, including:
- Illnesses and Infections: Coughing is common if you have the flu, a cold, bronchitis, pneumonia or other infections. It can continue to occur for weeks after you first become sick, even though you've begun to feel better.
- Postnasal Drip: Postnasal drip occurs when mucus from your nose drips down into your throat. The mucus irritates the lining of the throat, causing you a chronic cough.
- Smoking: Chronic coughing is common in smokers. It can also be a problem if you don't smoke, but are frequently exposed to cigarettes or cigar smoke.
- COPD: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes chronic inflammation in your bronchial tubes, which triggers coughing.
- Asthma: Coughing is common when your asthma isn't under control. Exposure to strong odors, chemicals, cold air or other triggers can cause coughing.
- ACE Inhibitors: These drugs treat heart failure and lower blood pressure. Some people develop chronic coughs when taking them.
- GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when acids from your stomach flow back into your esophagus and throat, resulting in irritation that triggers coughing.
- Exposure to Pollution and Chemicals: If you live in a polluted area or work with chemicals, toxins or irritants, you may be more likely to develop a chronic cough.
- Lung Cancer: Although most cases of chronic coughing aren't due to cancer, tumors can cause coughing.
When should you see an ENT?
If your cough doesn't get better after two or three weeks, it's a good idea to call your ear, nose and throat doctor. Other symptoms that warrant a call include:
- Fever higher than 100F
- Coughing up blood or yellow or green phlegm
- Difficulty breathing
- Night sweats
- Extreme fatigue
Chronic coughing can put your health at risk. If you or your family members experience frequent bouts of coughing, make an appointment with your ENT.