People cough after smoking, mowing a lawn, breathing in smoke from a campfire or barbeque, recovering from cold and more. These coughs rarely last more than a few days. A cough that lasts for eight weeks or more is considered chronic.
Your doctor should see any cough that wakes you up at night, produces blood or sputum, or gives you that “something’s wrong” feeling immediately.
This article is untended for diagnosis of any medical condition nor advocate or prescribe any specific medication or treatment. Always seek the advice of a licensed physician for proper diagnosis or treatment of any disease or condition.
Here are five causes of chronic coughing that require a doctor’s care.
Not everyone who has a chronic cough has lung cancer, and vice versa. If a cough just won’t go away or begins to produce blood, your doctor needs to know about it right away.
In many cases, the cough seems to come out of nowhere. While most persons with lung cancer are active or former smokers, even non-smokers can develop lung cancer.
This condition occurs from damage to the breathing tubes. The damage causes the airways to expand and become scarred and flabby. They lose the ability to remove mucus, dust and debris out of the airways.
This leads to repeated respiratory infections and can lead to heart failure or atelectasis, a condition where the alveoli (the air sacks in the lungs) collapse.
If you have had pneumonia or other respiratory infection and the cough doesn’t clear up, gets worse, produces discolored sputum or blood, see your doctor. If the coughing leaves you weak or dizzy, see your doctor.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Most people who have this condition seem to have no other symptoms other than an occasional cough.
Gastric juices (stomach juices); bypass the normal sphincter (valve) in the stomach that keeps things in the stomach. The acidic fluid causes irritation to the esophagus and produces coughing. If left untreated, the constant damage from the acid can scar the esophagus and breathing tubes, or worse.
Most patients with this condition are former smokers. The damage to the lungs from tobacco smoke and chemicals has left the lungs scarred and unable to function normally.
Other medical conditions can lead to chronic bronchitis as well. The condition may or may not be curable, but in most cases can be managed with medications under a doctor’s supervision.
Unexplained, persistent cough
Even with no previous medical condition, people can develop a persistent cough. Allergies, reaction to smoke, industrial chemicals and more can irritate a person’s airways and produce a cough.
Any cough that persists more than eight weeks or begins to produce dark colored sputum or blood should be evaluated immediately. Coughing jags that lead to a person vomiting should also be seen.
Wearing proper breathing protection while mowing or trimming the lawn, painting, using power tools or chemicals will help to reduce the amount of contaminants inhaled into the airways. This will reduce coughing, and may reduce respiratory infections.
Wearing a disposable mask while taking care of a person with a respiratory illness may sound silly, especially if the person is a family member, but it will help reduce the chances of catching it.