Occasionally cough can become a chronic problem. Rightfully, many patients struggle with their cough and find it to be a difficult and annoying problem. Cough can also be difficult for your doctor to treat since there are several possible causes. Learn more about the different causes for cough and the possible treatments.
What causes cough?
Many body systems may be sources for cough, including the lungs, voice box, nose, and even the stomach. Conditions that affect the lungs, like asthma can be a cause for it. Chronic sinusitis is a nasal condition that can also be a cause. Sometimes cough is related to postnasal drainage, which can be from conditions such as allergic or nonallergic rhinitis. Another cause for cough starts in the stomach and is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A recent upper respiratory infection (URI) can sometimes lead to a lingering cough. Since there are so many different causes for cough, it may even be difficult for your doctor to figure out right away!
What can help diagnosis cough?
There are several things your doctor may want to do to help diagnosis a persistent cough. The doctor will probably want to know about other symptoms like nasal congestion, wheezing, or heartburn. A physical exam will also help figure out possible causes. A chest X-Ray is one of the first tests your doctor may want. An ENT physician may also exam inside the nose and throat with a telescope. All of these initial tests may help you and your doctor decide on a treatment plan.
What treatments are used for cough?
Since there are so many different reasons for cough, treatment will be based on the most likely cause. For nose related problems medicines such as nasal steroids and oral antihistamines might be used. Both of these medications are available over the counter. If your doctor thinks a lung related problem such as asthma is the cause different medicines may be prescribed. Medicines for the treatment of asthma include bronchodilators (i.e., albuterol), inhaled corticosteroids, and leukotriene receptor antagonists (i.e., montelukast). When GERD is suspected, one recommendation may be for diet modification. Another consideration is medicines to control acid production such as proton pump inhibitors (PPI). Last, in really difficult to treat situations a doctor may recommend medications designed to control nerve signals causing it. These treatments include medicines such as gabapentin. As you can see there are many different treatments for cough and it is helpful to work closely with your doctor.