Coughs aren’t exactly unusual, but when they last for longer than three weeks, they are considered chronic. More than simply annoying, these can interfere with everyday activities and affect your overall quality of life. Individuals with a chronic cough in Lexington may be suffering from an underlying condition.
What Causes a Chronic Cough?
Coughing is a reflex designed to clear the throat of mucus and other irritants. We all cough from time to time, especially when we are suffering from a cold or upper respiratory tract infection. Coughs that last less than three weeks are considered acute and are generally nothing to worry about. A persistent or chronic cough, on the other hand, can be a symptom of something more serious.
Common cough triggers include throat clearing, viruses and bacteria, post-nasal drip, smoking, acid reflux, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While irritating (literally), most of these aren’t too worrisome.
Other, less common triggers include the following:
Airborne environmental irritants.
Air pollution, cigarette smoke and other environmental irritants can trigger a cough. Repeated exposure may prolong symptoms. Pollution is linked to other health problems including asthma, heart disease and cancer.
Coronary heart disease.
Hardening and narrowing of the arteries prevent the heart muscle from receiving the blood it needs to function, eventually leading to congestive heart failure. This causes a buildup of fluid in the lungs, often triggering coughing and wheezing. When bloody mucus accompanies your cough, medical attention is needed.
Aspiration during swallowing.
Aspiration occurs when something we are eating or drinking “goes down the wrong pipe.” It’s actually the result of a food or liquid inadvertently entering the airway or lungs; this causes coughing, wheezing and swallowing difficulty.
It’s always a good idea to schedule an appointment with an ENT doctor in Lexington if you are experiencing a frequent or chronic cough, especially when it’s accompanied by fever, headache, chest pain, drowsiness, confusion or difficulty breathing. Coughing up blood is another warning sign of a more serious condition. If you are experiencing these symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.