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When To Worry About A Persistent Cough

Persistent Cough

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Everyone picks up a cough from time to time, but when it lingers for more than two weeks, it may be a persistent cough.

Most coughs caused by the flu or cold virus typically go away on their own. But if it is rooted in a more serious medical condition, it will require further treatment.

Whatever the cause of the persistent coughs, there are ways to make the condition better.

What Is A Persistent Cough?

It is a chronic cough that lasts eight weeks or longer in adults or an equivalent of four weeks in children. It can cause an interruption in a good night’s sleep and leave the person feeling exhausted.

A persistent cough can be more than just an annoyance. In severe cases, it can result in symptoms such as vomiting, lightheadedness, and even rib fractures.

While it can be difficult to determine its exact cause, the most common comes from tobacco use, postnatal drip, asthma, and acid reflux (GERD). The good news is that chronic, persistent coughs can disappear once the underlying problem is addressed.

What Are The Common Causes Of A Cough?

A cough usually indicates that the body is trying to get rid of an irritant that enters the system.

Below are some of the common causes of cough in children and adults.

  • Infection – colds, flu, and croup that can lead to a lingering cough
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – the stomach acid which can irritate the esophagus and trigger cough reflex
  • Asthma – can be associated with the changing of seasons
  • Postnatal Drip – refers to the extra mucus dripping down the throat
  • Other Causes – a child inhaling a foreign object (e.g. food or small toy) or after exposure to common irritants (e.g. pollution, cigarette or fireplace smoke)

Treatment For Persistent Coughs

There are several ways to make a person feel and breathe easier if they are experiencing chronic coughs.

Here are six ways worth trying to help relieve coughs.

Drink Plenty Of Fluids

Getting hydrated is always a good idea, even more so when someone has a cold or flu. Drinking plenty of water will help thin mucus and make coughs more productive. The alternative to water is soups and other drinks and beverages that promote replacing lost liquids in the body.

Take Cough Suppressants

Take over-the-counter medications containing dextromethorphan, which helps block the cough reflex and temporarily relieve a dry, hacking cough.

Treat Allergies And Asthma

Antihistamine can help in asthma and allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, or both. If symptoms do not subside, see a doctor.


Steam help improves a wet cough, which is when a person produces mucus or phlegm.

When doing this method, put the person in a hot bath or shower, allowing the area to fill with steam. Stay in the area for a few minutes until the symptoms subside, or the person feels better.

Eliminate Acid Reflux Triggers

If unsure of the exact cause of the acid reflux and coughs, start by eliminating common triggers. Avoid foods that trigger reflux and monitor the symptoms.

Quit Smoking

Avoiding or quitting smoking habits can help prevent getting coughing episodes.

When To Call The Doctor?

Seek professional help in the following situations:

  • A long-lasting cough that does not go away
  • Deep cough with a lot of mucus
  • Blood found in the mucus
  • Frequent wheezing, shortness of breath, and experiencing chest tightness
  • A fever that does not go away after three days
  • Having chills or nighttime coughing fits
  • Cough that lasts for seven days without any signs of getting better

The Bottom Line

Chronic, persistent coughs can be a nuance, especially when they seem to drag on for weeks. If the cause is not addressed immediately, it can affect sleep schedule and overall quality of life.

If unsure what is causing the cough, consult with a doctor to determine the best treatment course. In the meantime, the combination of medication and first aid tips above can provide some cough relief.

Know how to treat dry and persistent coughs and other related diseases by enrolling in a first aid course today.

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