A persistent cough is defined as any cough which lasts for an extended period of time, or recurs. What this means for the person suffering, is a cough that never really goes away, and even if it gets better for a little while, always seems to come back. This is obviously different from the coughs associated with acute illnesses like the common cold, or even the flu. So, what causes this annoying and uncomfortable pest to occur in children and adults, and what can be done to treat it?
While there are some 74 medical conditions, at least, that are associated with the persistent cough, many are more common than others. It can often be a sign of serious infection, like Whooping Cough (especially in children), or a chronic lung condition of some kind- like COPD or emphysema, or even lung or throat cancer. These things must be treated immediately by medical care professionals, and this is why it is essential to have an examination if you believe you have developed a persistent cough. There are also several less severe conditions that can cause a chronic cough as well. Bronchitis, or inflammation of the bronchial tubes, as well as asthma, allergies, or even gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are all contributors. But, again, all of these conditions are treatable with medical assessment.
To diagnose the exact cause of a persistent cough, a doctor might choose to do a number of things. Obviously, several factors, such as smoking and occupational history, type of cough, length of cough, medical history, and additional symptoms, will help the doctor to narrow down the field of possibilities, so be sure to have a good idea of how to answer some of these questions. A simple physical examination can often be enough to determine the cause of such a cough. Additionally, the doctor may ask for blood work, in order to rule out some more rare but serious diseases, as well chest x-rays and other radiological investigations. Less commonly, a doctor may wish to perform a fiberoptic bronchoscopy to look at your throat for inflammation, or esophageal Ph monitoring to check for acid reflux. But, rest assured, your doctor will know from the initial examination what is most necessary for diagnosis.
While obviously medical attention is, of course, the best way to eradicate the underlying cause of a persistent cough, there are plenty of things you can do at home to make yourself more comfortable. Many of the same remedies one might try for an acute cough, such as hot showers, vaporizers, tea (chamomile, mint, or throat teas containing Anise work best), peppermint candy, and vitamin A, C and E can help temporarily ease the discomfort of a persistent cough. Also, quitting smoking is an integral part of helping any respiratory issue. Additionally, many naturopaths suggest the use of Esotyne, an all natural cough syrup of sorts, containing things like bee pollen, Vitamin C, and Golden Seal, can be beneficial. Just make sure you check the label for possible allergens first.