8 Alarming Causes of a Lingering Cough and How to Treat It

That lingering cough COULD indicate something more serious!

Is there anything more unyielding than a lingering cough? It’s that unwelcome guest who won’t take the hint to leave. But what if there’s more to it than just disturbance? Imagine your cough as a signal from your body, a message trying to tell you something is off.

This is why Indulging Health has decided to shed some light on 8 alarming causes behind that lingering cough and why it might hang around longer than expected.

From common culprits to lesser-known triggers, we’ll explore the potential reasons behind this persistent irritation. So if your cough lingers for more than 3 or 4 weeks, it’s time to see your doctor. Let’s unravel the mysteries of the lingering cough.

Lingering Cough
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The cold medication you’ve been taking may be the cause of your lingering cough

Certain types of medications, including common ones for high blood pressure, could be causing your lingering cough. These medications are known as ACE inhibitors. They can trigger a dry cough that’s similar to asthma.

-What’s the cause of it? This side effect occurs in roughly 10% of patients taking ACE inhibitors. It has to do with how the medication works by blocking specific receptors.

-Treatment: As soon as you stop taking the medicine, the cough should go away.

Your lingering cough may be a sign of postnasal drip

Postnasal drip is also frequently known as upper airway cough syndrome. It feels exactly like how it sounds. Like something might be dripping down from your nasal passage into your throat.

It’s constantly scratching against your epiglottis and vocal cords and causing a cough, doctors say. It may even turn into a wet cough as your body produces more mucus.

-What’s the cause of it? It can be caused by bacterial sinusitis, a virus, or several seasonal allergies, including hay fever, that cause itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose. These are the most likely reasons you can’t stop sneezing, either.

-Treatment: There are quite a few treatments for postnasal drip. You can use several therapies, including saline rinses, nasal irrigation, or a Neti pot. Many OTC nasal sprays and antihistamines like Zyrtec, Benadryl, or Allegra, are also options. You could also use a nasal steroid like Flonase, according to physicians. Though, we wouldn’t recommend this one unless you speak to your doctor first.

You may have the flu if you notice a lingering cough

Influenza, a.k.a. the flu, is a virus that can cause a cough, among many other symptoms. When you have the flu, you might also experience systemic symptoms like fever, intense body aches, and fatigue, says a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic. It will also be a persistent cough.

-What’s the cause of it? Viral infections can aggravate the nerve endings in a person’s airways and could lead to other upper respiratory infections.

-Treatment: If the flu is diagnosed early, some medications are available, including Tamiflu, according to doctors.

A lingering cough could be the first telltale sign of asthma

Asthma is the result of something triggering the airways to get inflamed, according to experts. It’s usually a dry cough that causes your airways to constrict. Symptoms can include wheezing, a recurrent cough, and experiencing shortness of breath.

-What’s the cause of it? There are two main causes of asthma. The first is allergies. And the second is having a non-allergic response to exercise, stress, or an illness.

-Treatment: If you suspect you might have asthma, you may need to undergo some breathing tests. And your doctor might suggest you try an inhaler.

Lingering Cough
Photo by Minerva Studio at Shutterstock

A lingering cough could indicate pneumonia

The main symptoms of pneumonia are generally a wet cough with lots of mucus, and one may even experience breathlessness, according to doctors. It can also begin as an upper respiratory infection.

-What’s the cause of it? Pneumonia is caused by an infection within the lungs that ultimately leads to the buildup of fluids in a person’s chest, says the Mayo Clinic.

-Treatment: Your physician can diagnose pneumonia with a chest x-ray. Bacterial pneumonia is typically treated with antibiotics. But in severe cases, it might require intravenous antibiotics. Speak to your doctor if you suspect you have pneumonia.

You may have GERD if you notice a lingering cough

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease, a.k.a. persistent heartburn. The stomach’s acid discharge can back up from your gut into the mouth, esophagus, and epiglottis, triggering a lingering cough you can’t seem to get rid of.

You might also taste something sour or burning regurgitation in the back of your mouth.

-What’s the cause of it? Spicy or fried foods, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and foods that are high in citrus, like some fruits and tomatoes. You might also notice it when you lay down immediately after eating.

There’s another variety called silent reflux, in which you experience reflux all the time regardless of your eating habits. Obesity, alcohol, smoking, enormous meals, and a fatigued lower esophageal sphincter, which is the valve that divides your stomach from your esophagus, along with older age, can also contribute to GERD.

-Treatment: Alter your diet by cutting down on the foods that trigger symptoms, and try to eat at least three hours before bedtime. OTC heartburn medications or prescription medications can also help.

A lingering cough could be a sign of chronic bronchitis

If you have chronic bronchitis, doctors say it usually sounds like a wet, productive cough.

-What’s the cause of it? People who smoke or have a long history of smoking are the most likely to get chronic bronchitis. It could also be caused by dust or other air pollutants.

-Treatment: Your family physician might want to prescribe a bronchodilator medication or steroid to soothe and open your airways.

A lingering cough could indicate lung cancer

Lung cancer usually causes a chronic and persistent cough that results in breathlessness. Patients might also cough up blood, which is never an ordinary sign and should always be met with medical care.

-What’s the cause of it? The number one reason of lung cancer is smoking, according to doctors. But it can also be caused by exposure to asbestos, radon, or other pollutants, notes the Mayo Clinic.

-Treatment: Lung cancer is one of the most common cause of cancer mortality because its symptoms usually appear too late to get curative treatment. But, treatment is available and might include radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy.

Lingering Cough
Photo by FamVeld at Shutterstock

When should you seek medical attention?

A lingering cough on its own isn’t always a reason to be upset. But it’s essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you’re experiencing a lingering cough along with any of the following symptoms:

-Coughing up significant amounts of mucus
-Uncommon fatigue
-Wheezing or you have trouble breathing
-Constant fever
-Vomiting during or after coughing
-Unexplained weight loss
-Chest pain
-Coughing up blood

Have you been experiencing any of the signs we’ve mentioned in this article? If so, contact your doctor immediately and make an appointment to get checked out.

And please feel free to share your thoughts with our readers in the comments below if you HAVE been through this and have any tips and tricks to share them.

Meanwhile, Indulging Health has much more to offer. For instance, here are 10 Common Flu Hotspots You Should Avoid in the Next Couple of Months

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