Health & Fit Causes of Cough

18:54  07 july  2020
18:54  07 july  2020 Source:   usnews.com

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Do you know how many times each day the average healthy adult coughs? A study out of Europe suggested more than 18 times per day. You may be saying, "I thought you only cough when you are sick." In fact, the reason we cough is that it's a protective reflex that helps you get rid of irritants in the throat and lungs such as allergens, smoke and mucus. These are "good" coughs, but there are other types of cough that are usually associated with disease. Let's look at some of the diseases that have cough as a symptom.

a person holding a baby: Young woman coughing © (Getty Images) Young woman coughing

Cough is one of the most common causes for visits to a health care provider. It's usually classified by the number of days that it has been occurring. A cough that lasts for less than three weeks is called an acute cough. This is the most frequent type of cough and is usually associated with an upper respiratory tract infection or cold. Usually this is a dry cough with nasal symptoms like congestion, sore throat and fever.

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Some of the other many causes of acute cough include pneumonia, which may have a more productive cough – meaning it helps clear mucus and other matter from the airways – as well as sinus infection and flu. In young children, a barking cough can be a sign of croup. Usually we associate wheezing with asthma, yet cough is the most common asthma symptom in both children and adults. Acute cough can also appear in a patient with congestive heart failure or pulmonary embolus.

Subacute cough is one that lasts from three to eight weeks. We often see a subacute cough after a viral infection. You may have a cold and the nasal symptoms and fever disappear in a couple of weeks, but the cough continues for up to two months. That's a post-viral cough. There are types of pneumonia that may have subacute cough. These can have headache, fever and a fatigued feeling along with the worsening cough. Another illness seen with a subacute cough is pertussis. People suffering with this condition make a classic high-pitched whoop sound, which is how it got its other name, whooping cough. Coughing with this bacterial disease can be so severe your ribs can break, and deaths do occur. That is why the pertussis vaccine is so important.

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The final group is chronic cough, which is a cough that lasts for more than eight weeks. People with chronic cough need to have a medical evaluation to try to determine the cause. Adults who smoke or have smoked in the past for many years and now have a chronic cough need to be checked for malignancy and other lung problems. There are medications that can trigger chronic cough, with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors being the most common. These medicines are used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions. Lisinopril, enalapril and benazepril are a few of these drugs. A cough usually begins within a month of starting these agents but can be delayed as long as six months. It is a dry cough that usually goes away within a few weeks of stopping the ACE inhibitor.

The four most frequent conditions that lead to chronic cough are upper airway cough syndrome or post-nasal drip, asthma, non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Upper airway cough syndrome includes conditions like chronic sinusitis, hay fever and other nasal conditions. Treating the underlying cause will usually result in controlling the cough. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, if your cough is allergy-related, you might notice that you cough more during some seasons, or in some environments. This can be caused by the presence of allergens that may affect you. Two lung conditions, asthma and non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis, may have cough as their only symptoms. Special tests may be needed to diagnose these illnesses. Believe it or not, GERD can cause chronic cough. The symptoms of heartburn happen at the same time as the cough, though not in all patients.

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Unfortunately, there is a group with chronic cough for which no cause can be determined. We call them "unexplained chronic cough." People can have this condition for years, and small things like talking or laughing can trigger a severe coughing fit. Typically, it affects women between the ages of 40 and 70, and they sometimes have associated urinary incontinence. Work is underway to determine the causes, and new treatments to control the cough are under evaluation.

Cough can be good in protecting the airways, but we need to be aware of the cough that can be associated with significant disorders. If you are suffering with cough, especially chronic cough, an allergist or lung specialist may be able to help you out.

Copyright 2020 U.S. News & World Report

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This is interesting!