A chronic cough should never be ignored, as it can signal a serious underlying condition. A cough is considered chronic if it lasts four weeks or longer in children, and eight weeks or longer in adults.
Because there are a variety of conditions that can contribute to a long-lasting cough, it can be difficult to diagnose the precise cause. However, our specialists at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles are vastly experienced in accurately identifying the underlying condition and providing immense relief for patients of all ages.
Acute Bronchitis vs. Chronic Bronchitis
Acute bronchitis is extremely common and typically develops after you’ve already had a cold or another infection. It will typically improve within a few days, though your cough may linger for a few weeks.
Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is a much more serious condition. It occurs as the result of heavy irritation or inflammation, commonly due to smoking. Chronic bronchitis requires medical attention, as it is one form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
If you have a chronic cough, you may experience the following symptoms in addition to persistent coughing:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Post nasal drip
- Sore throat
- Frequent throat clearing
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood or mucus
Causes of chronic cough
A chronic cough in children is known to be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Infections, such as bronchiolitis, bronchitis or pneumonia
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Sinus problems, such as a sinus infection or post nasal drip
- Gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux
Other uncommon causes of a chronic cough include aspirating a foreign object into the lungs, congenital lung defects, cystic fibrosis, interstitial lung diseases, habitual cough and immune disorders. In very rare cases, a chronic cough in children can occur due to a tumor or collagen vascular diseases.
Does a chronic cough require treatment?
If you or your child are experiencing a cough that does not display signs of improvement, it’s important to seek treatment. Though a chronic cough may gradually improve on its own, it’s much more likely that the symptoms worsen over time. For example, if there is a serious infection present, there is the possibility of a super infection, with damage to the lung or sinuses, as well as progression to the surrounding organs. In addition, if the untreated cough is caused by asthma, it may result in a severe attack that requires an emergency room visit, hospital admission, diminished lung function and irreversible damage.
How is a chronic cough diagnosed?
Successful treatment and the resolution of symptoms associated with a chronic cough begin with a definitive diagnosis – something our experts at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles are vastly experienced in providing. To identify the underlying condition that is contributing to the cough, we may order the following tests:
- An x-ray to examine the lungs and/or sinuses.
- Blood work and/or skin testing to check for allergies.
- Blood work to check your immune system, signs of inflammation and other underlying disorders.
- A breathing test to measure the function and capacity of your lungs.
- Sweat test.
- PH studies.
- Nasopharyngoscopy, laryngoscopy or bronchoscopy to achieve direct visualization of your upper and lower airways.
How is a chronic cough treated?
The treatment of your or your child’s chronic cough will depend on the cause. By treating the underlying condition, we are able to eliminate the cough and any other uncomfortable symptoms. For example, if an infection is present, our specialists will administer antibiotic treatments as needed. If asthma is the cause, we’ll prescribe an inhaler to minimize inflammation and open the airways. If the cough is caused by acid reflux, we may recommend lifestyle changes and a medication that blocks acid production. Regardless of what’s causing your or your child’s chronic cough, our specialists are able to resolve the condition, eliminate the symptoms and restore your quality of life.
If you or your child suffers from a chronic cough, please know that relief is possible with among the best chronic cough treatment Los Angeles has available at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment, and let us help you control your symptoms and restore your quality of life.Contact Us