Chronic Cough and Asthma

Got a cough that's keeping you up all night? Most of us cough when we have a cold, as it's the body's way of clearing the bronchial passages. But when a cough lingers long after your cold has gone, it could be time to see if it's related to asthma.

Why Chronic Cough and Asthma Often Co-Exist

There are several possible reasons that a chronic cough and asthma go hand in hand. For instance, an asthma cough can occur when the nerves of the airways become irritated by cold air, allergens, or other issues. Many asthmatics also find that their airways fill with mucus during an asthma attack, and they need to cough to clear the passages. In addition, in people with allergic asthma, the allergies can cause post nasal drip, which is when mucus drips down the back of the nose into the throat, prompting the coughing reflex.

Cough related to asthma often occurs along with other symptoms, including wheezing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing. However, for a smaller group of asthmatics who suffer from a condition called cough variant asthma, a dry cough may exist without other effects, making it more difficult to diagnose.

Treatment Options

If you have a chronic cough, with or without other symptoms, it's important to see your doctor. If she thinks that you could have either traditional asthma or cough variant asthma, you'll need to identify what things could set off your condition, such as exercise, cold air, or seasonal allergens.

Both traditional and cough variant asthma can be treated using asthma control medications to reduce inflammation. In addition, you'll want to carry a fast-acting relief inhaler to treat your asthma cough and/or other symptoms when they do occur.

Quieting Your Asthma Cough

When your asthma cough is interfering with your rest, try some simple remedies, such as drinking warm liquid to soothe your throat and thin the mucus, running a cool mist humidifier to moisten the air, and steering clear of carbonated drinks, which can irritate your throat and make coughing worse.

Pay attention to your symptoms. You can do this by checking your peak flow readings regularly and following your asthma action plan when you notice signs you could be heading into your danger zone. With proper care, you can put your asthma cough to bed so you can get some rest.




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Martin, Richard J et al. "Cough Variant Asthma." Medscape Pulmonary Medicine. Medscape Today, 11 Dec. 2003. Web. 19 May 2011.