An overview of chronic cough and treatment

A knowledge of cough is paramount to effectively diagnosing and treating patients with cough. It has been discovered in a large number of individuals that the presence of acute and self-limiting cough is usually due to a viral upper respiratory tract infection. At the same time, chronic and persistent cough is generally a result of chronic bronchitis or postnasal drip. Acute cough represents the most significant single cause of consultation in primary care. In contrast, chronic cough is one of the most familiar presentations in respiratory medicine.

Chronic cough is a cough that has lingered for eight weeks. Chronic cough is common but often weakening and unmanageable. On the other hand, idiopathic cough, that is, cough without a known cause is rare. The wrong diagnosis of idiopathic cough is prevalent, mainly because of the failure to recognize that cough can also result from provocations in sites outside the airway.

Symptoms of chronic cough

A chronic cough can occur, accompanied by other signs and symptoms, which may include the following;

  1. Runny nose or stuffy nose
  2. Postnasal drip that occurs as a feeling of liquid running down the back of your throat
  3. Wheezing and shortness of breath
  4. Hoarseness
  5. Frequent throat clearing and sore throat
  6. Heartburn
  7. Coughing up blood (usually in rare cases)

Causes of cough

 An occasional cough is normal as it helps clear secretions and other irritants from your lungs, thus preventing infection. However, a cough that persists for weeks most often results from an underlying issue. In most cases, individuals have more than one cause of chronic cough. Although it usually is challenging to ascertain the problem that’s triggering a chronic cough, some of the causes of chronic cough include the following;

  1. Postnasal drip: This is a condition whereby the nose or sinuses produce extra mucus that drips down the back of your throat, triggering your cough reflex. This condition is also known as upper airway cough syndrome (UACS).
  2. Asthma: An asthma-related cough may be erratic depending on the seasons. It can also appear after an upper respiratory tract infection and worsen due to exposure to cold air or certain chemicals or fragrances. In cough-variant asthma (which is a type of asthma), a cough is the main symptom.
  3. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Here, stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing an irritation that can result in chronic coughing. The coughing, in turn, worsens gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  4. Anti-hypertensive drugs: The Angiotensin-converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACEIs), e.g., Lisinopril, enalapril, captopril, and so on, are common medications in the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure. They work by causing relaxation of blood vessels and a decrease in blood volume, which leads to lower blood pressure and decreased oxygen demand from the heart. However, they can cause a chronic cough in some individuals. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors are a class of drugs used primarily for treating high blood pressure and heart failure. 
  5. Infections: A cough can persist long after dealing with other symptoms of pneumonia, flu, a cold, or other upper respiratory tract infection. A common but overlooked cause of chronic cough in adults is pertussis. Also called whooping cough, a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis causes pertussis. Chronic cough can also occur with fungal infections of the lungs, tuberculosis infection, or lung infection with non-tuberculosis mycobacterial organisms.
  6. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD): COPD, a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs, includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis can cause a cough that brings up colored sputum.

Other less common causes of chronic cough include:

  1. Lung cancer
  2. Cystic fibrosis
  3. Laryngopharyngeal reflux (stomach acid flows up into the throat)
  4. Aspiration (food in adults; foreign bodies in children)
  5. Non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis (airway inflammation not caused by asthma)
  6. Bronchiecstasis (damaged, dilated airways)
  7. Bronchiolitis (inflammation of the tiny airways of the lung)
  8. Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in different parts of your body, most commonly the lungs)
  9. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (chronic scarring of the lungs due to an unknown cause)

Fortunately, chronic cough disappears once the underlying problem receives attention and treatment.

Risk factors associated with chronic cough

Being a current or a former smoker is one of the significant risk factors associated with chronic cough. It is imperative to note that constant exposure to second-hand smoke, i.e., smoke exhaled by a smoker, can result in lung damage and cough.


Coughing can result in various problems, which include:

  1. Excessive sweating
  2. Dizziness
  3. Vomiting
  4. Urinary Incontinence
  5. Disruption of sleep

When to see a doctor?

See your doctor if you have a cough that persists for weeks, especially one that brings up sputum or blood, disturbs your sleep, or affects school or work. Early diagnosis of chronic cough assists in proper therapy choices and enhances quick recovery. It is also advisable that patients regularly go for check-ups, especially those prone to chronic cough.

Prompt treatment for cough available at locations throughout Tampa, FL

It is discomforting battling a persistent cough that won’t just go away. A chronic cough is more than just an annoyance; it can interrupt your sleep and leave you feeling exhausted. That is why at TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we have the advanced knowledge to help you find solutions to and conquer your challenges with cough. TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, gives treatments at its clinics throughout the Tampa, Florida, area. 

We have locations in Carrollwood, South Tampa, Downtown Tampa, Westchase, and Seminole Heights. Each of our locations provides prompt sore throat treatment you need to enjoy some relief finally. Our board-certified medical providers offer patient-centered care to individuals three months or older. They can treat a wide array of non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries and perform lab tests and imaging procedures to provide a complete diagnosis on the spot so you can get on the path to wellness as soon as possible.


The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.

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