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Wednesday, February 08, 2006
DID YOU EVER HAVE A COUGH THAT JUST WOULD NOT GO AWAY? You try Robitussin and drink it day after day after day with no resolution and think "I don't feel like I have a cold, but why am I coughing?" Although guite common, but perhaps not well known, your chronic cough may be caused by either Postnasal drip, GERD( gastroesophageal reflux disease) or asthma.

The fact is that in the case of chronic cough - or a cough lasting more that six weeks - these three causes are the most common, in the absence of smoking. A short-lived cough is often due to the common cold. This may occur in the setting of a viral infection, which causes inflammation to the mucous membranes inside your nose and airway with production of copious amounts of mucous. Viral syndromes such as these usually last 7-10 days.

Persistence of a cough for a longer period should promprt consideration of a sinus infection. These infections are characterized by secreations, which are either green or yellow and associated with pain and pressure in the cheekbones and midforehead. The process of coughing occurs due to irritation of the airway. Mucous drips down into the airway and irritates nerve endings in the lungs, which -- through a feedback to the brain -- stimulates you to cough and expel the foreign contents invading your lungs. It should be pointed out that in the elderly, this reflex does not work well, and the foreign lung contents remian in the lung leading to further inflammation and the potential development of pneumonia.

In the case of chronic cough caused by the three aforementioned diseases, the same process is at hand. With GERD, there is a backflow of stomach contents mainly characterised by acid , which travels back up the throat and down the airway causing irritation of nerve endings. This happens mainly at night, and people are often unaware of it. The treatment for this is a trial of anti-acid medication, namely proton pump inhibitors that prevent acid production. These tablets are sold over the counter, but recommendations from a physician is advised.

Postnatal drip is a condition often found in people who have runny noses whether due to allergies or non-allergic causes. In either scenario, mucous drips down the back of the throat, enters the airway leading one to cough. People with this condition often find themselves clearing their throat on a regular basis and may never have thought there was anything that could be done to get rid of it.

Although by no means a serious conditions, a cough with symptoms of runny nose and constant throat clearing can be quite disruptive to one's life. In most cases, postnasal drip responds very well to treatment, primarily by menas of a decongestant and in some cases a steroid nasal spray. Some people who have an allergic component causing their postnasal drip also benefit from an anti-histamine.

As far as asthma being a cause for cough -- also known as cough variant asthma -- a person may not get the typical features of an asthma attack, but rather present with a simple cough after exposure to either a chemical irritant or an allergic inrritant. In many instances, one may not be aware they have asthma.

Cough variant asthma can be diagnosed by a lung doctor, or pulmonologist, by way of a breathing test or pulmonary function test, which tests lung volumes and airflow rates. The physician performing the test can also give you a breath of methylcholine, which will cause you to cough if you do in fact have asthma. This disorder is treated with albuterol inhalers or pumps, which are used only as needed, but are available in longer acting formulations for those with more consistent and predictable symptoms.

Many people think that nothing can be done for a chronic cough, that is just part of the common cold, but be aware that there are many things that can cause a cough, most of which are treatable.

Source: CHICHEALTHMAG by: Melissan J. Robledo, MD)
posted by infraternam meam @ 11:34 PM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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