How to Manage Chronic Cough
June 10, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

How to Manage Chronic Cough

What Is Chronic Cough?

A simple cough is almost never anything to worry about, as it is a routine body function. However, when it exceeds a normal limit it disrupts your life and becomes a problem. Along with becoming a nuisance, your throat also gets itchy, dry, or spits out blood or phlegm. Therefore, chronic cough can be either wet or dry.

There is a rough time period that marks the difference between a normal cough and a chronic cough. If you are an adult and your cough lasts longer than 8 weeks, it is chronic. However, this period is 4 weeks for children.

Chronic cough can lead to serious issues. These can be prevented if chronic cough is addressed early and the root cause is treated. There are several causes of chronic cough and they are listed as follows:


Asthma is one of the most common long-term respiratory illnesses, especially in children. It is a disease that affects the lungs and makes them especially sensitive. The upper airways are also extremely sensitive to various irritants such as cold air or particles in the air.

Exercises that require the person to breathe harder and deeper than normal are also a trigger for people with asthma. As a result, they find it hard to breathe or suffer from extreme fits of coughing. Also, there is a specific type of asthma known as cough-variant asthma; it can potentially lead to chronic cough.


Bronchitis refers to an infection that affects the main airways of the lungs, known as bronchi. This infection makes them irritated and inflamed, leading to several problems such as cough, wheezing, and sore throat. The cough involved in bronchitis is typically accompanied by phlegm. Usually, chronic bronchitis that involves long-term inflammation of the airways is what leads to chronic cough.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

This condition occurs when acids from the stomach come back up into the throat and create irritation. If this irritation persists for an extended period it can lead to chronic cough.

Postnasal Drip

This condition describes the feeling of mucus dripping down the back of your throat and causing a cough. We normally swallow mucus without realizing it. But if this mucous is too thick, it causes irritation and triggers a cough reflex.


There are certain medications, particularly those used to lower blood pressure, which can trigger a chronic cough. These include benazepril, ramipril, and captopril.

Less Common Causes

Apart from the common causes of chronic cough, there are some other reasons that may be behind a chronic cough. These include cystic fibrosis, heart disease, bronchiolitis, bronchiectasis, aspiration, lung cancer, and sarcoidosis.

Symptoms of Chronic Cough

Other than long-term frequent coughing, chronic cough comes with these symptoms:

      Sore throat and frequent need of throat clearing

      The feeling of a liquid running down the back of your throat

      Runny nose or blocked (stuffy) nose

      Wheezing and difficulty in breathing


      Weird or sour taste in the mouth

      Coughing up blood

In emergencies, chronic cough can lead to high fever, chest pains, and coughing up blood. In such cases, the patient should be immediately taken to a hospital.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.