When a cough lasts for more than three weeks or produces blood in the phlegm, it’s time to seek out the underlying cause. While there are many possible explanations for a chronic cough, the most common causes are allergies and asthma, postnasal drip, tobacco use, and acid reflux or GERD, in which stomach acids can flow back into the throat, causing irritation. Other less common causes include a lingering infection, chronic bronchitis (more commonly seen in smokers), habitual or nervous coughing, and the side effects of certain medications. A chronic cough can be quite disruptive. It can rob you of sleep, make it difficult to eat, drink and speak, hurt your chest and back, and the lightheadedness from constant coughing can make it nearly impossible to work or even think. When a cough is really intense, it can even cause vomiting and fractured ribs. Fortunately, for most of us, even the worst cough goes away after a few lousy days. But what if it doesn’t?
Determining the cause of your cough is critical to establishing an effective treatment regimen. Rather than treating just the cough itself (although cough suppressants may be prescribed to help you sleep better), Dr. Yagoda of Manhattan/ NYC, New York (NY) treats the underlying condition. If the cause of your chronic cough is found to be asthma, for example, you may be given medications that reduce inflammation and widen the airways as well as antihistamines, leukotriene inhibitors and decongestants. If, however, acid reflux is the culprit, you’ll be given recommendations for changing your diet and reducing stress, and perhaps be prescribed medications that block acid production. Whatever the cause, one thing is for certain: without the proper diagnosis, you can not have the correct treatment.
Dr. Yagoda is an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat physician) who can determine the cause of your cough and provide you with safe and effective treatment options from her Manhattan/ New York City (NYC), New York (NY) office.