Cough can have many causes and can be a source of great frustration. This may consist of a wet cough or a dry nonproductive cough. Sometimes this may not resolve after treatment of a possible bacterial upper respiratory infection with antibiotics and over the counter medications.After initial treatment by a primary doctor, specialty care from an ear, nose and throat specialist and possibly a pulmonary specialist may be needed. Allergy evaluation may sometimes be helpful.
Different sources of cough
A cough may be part of an upper respiratory infection, but after many of the symptoms have resolved, the cough take many weeks to clear.
Some medications may have cough as a side effect.
Reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus and the throat may result in throat irritation and may result in coughing, even if not perceived as heartburn. This may be noticed as a sensation of something in the throat that can not be cleared.
A sinus infection may lead to post nasal drainage and cough. Aggressive treatment may include mucolytics and decongestants. Sometimes sinus surgery is needed.
A less common cause is a neurogenic cough. This is commonly triggered by environmental factors such as change in temperature. It should be considered if the cough does not get better with typical treatments.
Evaluation may include an endoscopic exam of the nasal passages and throat, as well as chest x ray and ct scans. Trials of different medications are also sometimes needed.
Treatments may include:
- Oral inhaled steroids
- Nasal spray steroids
- Oral steroids
- Acid reflux medication
- Narcotic cough medication
Those with cough as a major symptom of their illness should seek treatment early as this can be a source of great discomfort.