Chronic coughing: Possible causes and treatment

Chronic coughing: Possible causes and treatment

Chronic cough is defined as daily coughing for three weeks or more. Although a common complaint in smokers, when non-smokers have a chronic cough with a normal X-ray, the cause is likely one of three things, says Jeffrey Weiland, MD, a pulmonologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. In half of the cases, it’s because of undiagnosed asthma. In the other half, the cause is typically post-nasal drip (particularly common in those 60 or older) or acid reflux.

Even when there are no other symptoms of acid reflux, Dr. Weiland explains that it only takes one teaspoon of acid to cause coughing. When patients do present with a chronic cough and have a normal X-ray, asthma treatment is initiated. If that does not resolve the issue, Dr. Weiland then refers patients to an ear, nose and throat specialist to look at the voice box for any indications of irritation or reflux.

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