What causes your persistent cough?

If you’ve had a cough for more than eight weeks, it is called a chronic cough. Treatments can involve lifestyle changes, medications and sometimes further examinations are required. A persistent cough may have a variety of causes, some more serious than others.


When the small sacs in your lungs fill with pus or fluid because of a bacteria or virus, you may experience trouble breathing and cough up mucus. If you have pneumonia, you will need to seek a doctor’s assistance.

Lung cancer
A persistent cough is a symptom of lung cancer. While more common among smokers, anyone can get lung cancer. Other symptoms such as wheezing, headaches and chest pain should not be ignored.

Upper airway cough syndrome
Also known as postnasal drip, this occurs when mucus drips down the back of your throat from your nose causing you to cough. It’s often the result of a cold, so shouldn’t last long once your cold clears up.

Coughing is a common symptom of asthma, which is often brought on by cold weather, allergies or pollen. Asthma can cause your throat to swell, making you cough and find it hard to breathe. If you believe you are experiencing asthma, it’s best to seek medical advice.

Chronic bronchitis
If you smoke and have a reoccurring cough, or experience wheezing, this may be the cause. Chronic bronchitis occurs when cigarette smoke or pollutants damage your lungs. Treatment involves giving up smoking and allowing your lungs to heal.

Acid reflux
You may experience a burning feeling in your chest or the sour taste of bile as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes stomach acid and food to move back up your throat. This may trigger your cough reflex.

Blood pressure medication
According to WebMD, one in five people prescribed medications known as ACE inhibitors for heart failure or high blood pressure will develop a persistent dry cough. You may be able to discuss this side-effect with your doctor and alter your medication, if possible.

Heart failure
If heart failure causes blood to collect and force fluids into the lungs, it can become hard to breath, triggering a cough. If you experience this and other symptoms, including an irregular heartbeat, swollen ankles or feet, nausea, tiredness, or if you cough up pink mucus, seek medical attention.

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Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


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Written by Liv Gardiner


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