By Dr. Arunesh Kumar, Pulmonology
A cough is not necessarily to be worried about always. It is the natural response of our body to throw out harmful particles which somehow managed to enter our respiratory tract. There is sticky mucus situated in the pathway to lungs which plays a major role in trapping harmful particles. Coughing once or twice is generally a natural phenomenon but if it’s persistent it is called the chronic cough, and there is a reason to worry.
Is your cough chronic?
An acute cough aggravates within a very short span of time, maybe 2-3 days. There are situations when coughing doesn’t hinder your day to day activities and are easily neglected. Sometimes these infrequent bouts of a cough can persist for long and continue for more than 3 weeks, which has been characterized as a chronic cough. Any cough persisting for more than three weeks warrants investigation.
A chronic cough is sometimes found associated with blocked or running nose. Persons suffering from a chronic cough feel very exhaustive and suffer from a headache, dizziness along with excessive sweating. Under such situations, you must consult a pulmonologist.
Know the causes of chronic cough -
There are several causes for persistent coughing, and the following are the common causes of a chronic cough and medication is taken in consultation with a trained medical practitioner only.
- Infections: Bacterial or viral infection in the lungs can be one of the causes of a chronic cough. Tuberculosis is one of them which initiates as a chronic cough and is later characterized by emitting blood after cough bouts.
- Drug Interactions: Antihypertensive drugs have been found to be responsible for chronic cough in some people. Hypersensitivity to the prescribed drugs is found to responsible for the cough bouts, and change in medication takes care of the issue.
- Asthma: It’s a situation characterized by blockages in the bronchi which disallows the normal airflow during inhalation and exhalation. Due to inadequate oxygen, the brain assumes that there is a blockage which needs to be expelled and coughing pattern starts. However, asthma has to be treated, and the bronchi have to be brought back to normal with the help of medication by an expert medical practitioner.
- COPD: The most common cause of a chronic cough nowadays is COPD, better known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. This is one of the progressive diseases which means it deteriorates with time. Active smokers are the biggest victims of it. Persons exposed to a high degree of pollution or similar occupational hazards are also at high risk. Exposure to these pollutants causes inflammatory responses in lungs resulting in the tapering of the airways and destruction of lung tissues. These can be measured by lung function tests. In asthma, the narrow airways can be broadened by external medication, but in case of COPD, it’s not possible.
To conclude, chronic cough is a preventable disease by reducing the exposure to risk factors as mentioned above. Quitting smoking, improving the indoor air quality with the use of solar cooking and moving on battery run vehicles can prevent COPD from further worsening. You can also undergo pulmonary rehabilitation program which is being counseled and coordinated by many physicians to benefit the individual suffering from the issue.