Conditions that Cause Constant Coughing
Constant coughing is a symptom that can be a major inconvenience in one’s everyday activities. As there are a lot of conditions that can cause persistent, recurring coughs, one must first figure out which cause is the most likely culprit before an appropriate and effective treatment can be used. The following sections will describe four common conditions that can cause constant coughing as well as give recommendations for treatment.
Asthma is a very common disorder that can be found all over the world, especially in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that about 25 million Americans are currently diagnosed with asthma, with about 28 percent of that figure being children. Most people who have asthma are diagnosed during childhood, although it is definitely possible for the condition to go undiagnosed until the individual reaches adulthood. For some who are diagnosed as children, the condition may “clear up,” resulting in no further instances of attack, while others may maintain this condition for a lifetime.
Asthma is a disorder in which the airways in the lungs contract due to inflammation. This makes it difficult to breathe and leaves the individual gasping or wheezing. Constant coughing is another common side effect associated with asthma, as are the sensation of contractions in the chest and lungs, pain in the chest, sweating, and rapid breathing. These symptoms can be fairly mild or they can be so severe that failure to administer treatment could prove to be fatal.
Asthma is generally treated using medication, although it cannot be cured. The medication used to treat asthma includes anti-inflammatory drugs, bronchodilators (airway openers), breathing machines, and inhalers. Some people with asthma may never require these medications while others may rely on them to prevent or manage a potentially life-threatening attack.
Bronchitis, much like asthma, involves inflammation of the airways in the lungs; however this condition is not typically a permanent lifelong disorder. Bronchitis can either be acute, meaning that it comes on quickly and with intense symptoms that go away after a short time, or this condition can be chronic, which means that the symptoms will come on for a while, go away, and then return. Chronic bronchitis also tends to produce symptoms that last longer than two months.
Bronchitis is usually caused by an infection, such as a cold or the flu. While the initial infection may be long gone, bronchitis can remain for weeks afterward. The symptoms of bronchitis include constant coughing that is likely to produce green or brown-ish colored mucus, fever, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, and weakness.
The treatment given for bronchitis largely depends on whether it is the result of a bacterial infection or viral infection. Bacterial infections tend to produce symptoms much faster than viral bronchitis and can be handled with a prescription antibiotic medication. Viral infections must simply be left to run their course.
GERD, or gastro-esophageal reflux disease, is a condition that isn’t widely known but is actually more common than most people realize. GERD is characterized by acid reflux that occurs on a regular basis, sometimes even without a “trigger” or cause. In many cases, GERD is associated with spasmodic or loose lower esophageal sphincter muscles, which are located toward the bottom of the esophagus at the opening to the stomach. These muscles are supposed to remain contracted in order to keep stomach acid and food inside the stomach; they only open up whenever food or beverages are being emptied into the stomach. When the LES fails, it becomes slackened and allows acid to travel out of the stomach and up the esophagus, resulting in painful burning sensations in the chest and throat.
Other symptoms of GERD include constant coughing during reflux, nausea, the sensation that food is stuck in the throat or chest, wheezing, trouble swallowing, sore throat, and voice hoarseness. In most cases, GERD can be managed by over the counter antacid medication directed towards heartburn relief. Antacid tablets, which are chewable and chalk-like in texture, tend to work really well, as do liquid medications with virtually the same ingredients as the tablets. For individuals that suffer from severe GERD, another treatment option involves prescription medication that inhibits the release of stomach acid. With less acid in the stomach to regurgitate, the symptoms of acid reflux are greatly reduced and even prevented altogether.
Constant coughing can also be associated with moderate allergies. The symptoms of allergies, such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy throat, coughing, and a headache, are the result of inflammation and excessive mucus production in the nasal and airway passages. The irritation caused by mucus dripping/drainage can make the throat and chest feel irritated which results in a persistent and pesky cough.
While there may no cure for allergies, there are a few over the counter medications that can help to cut back on the symptoms. If these medications aren’t strong enough—and that is sometimes the case with sufferers of severe allergies—then there are prescription pills that can be taken daily to stop the symptoms of allergies before they get out of hand.