Chronic cough

A chronic cough is more than just an annoyance. A chronic cough can ruin your sleep and leave you feeling exhausted. Severe cases of chronic cough can result in vomiting, lightheadedness, depression, even rib fractures.

Chronic cough is defined as lasting eight weeks or longer in adults, four weeks in children.

While it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the problem that's triggering a chronic cough, the most common causes are tobacco use, postnasal drip, asthma and acid reflux — the backflow of stomach acid that can irritate your throat. Chronic cough typically disappears once the underlying problem is treated.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

A chronic cough can occur with other signs and symptoms, which may include:

  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • A feeling of liquid running down the back of your throat
  • Frequent throat clearing and sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Heartburn or a sour taste in your mouth
  • In rare cases, coughing up blood

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have a cough that lingers for weeks, especially one that brings up sputum or blood, disturbs your sleep or affects your work.

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