When a Cough Is More Than a Cough: 5 Reasons Not to Ignore Chronic Cough
March 17, 2014 - Chicago, IL
The good, the bad, and the ugly...cough, that is. When cough is a protective reflex, preventing inhalation of a foreign object or choking, it's a good cough. When a cough is caused by post-nasal drip from a cold or flu, it's a bad cough that temporarily causes discomfort, a raspy voice, and loss of sleep. Then there's the ugly cough. Chronic cough -- the one that seems to never go away, takes control of your life, and brings nothing but suffering and misery -- yup, that's the ugly cough.
"Many people don't think much of a cough, because it is such a natural reflex," says Chicago allergist and cough expert Brian Rotskoff, MD. "Chalking it up to a cold or allergies, they may not even notice a worsening condition or realize how long it's been hanging on. Unfortunately, the longer you ignore a chronic cough, the greater the risk of serious damage that worsens the condition."
Even if you think that it is nothing to worry about, if you are coughing for longer than a week you should see a physician. "Although a chronic cough is characterized as lasting longer than four to six weeks," explains Dr. Rotskoff. "A cough lasting longer than one week, could indicate other problems."
Ignoring a persistent cough or "waiting it out" will only exasperate your condition. Left untreated, a persistent cough can pose a threat to your well-being, eventually causing additional pain and affecting other areas of your life.
5 reasons not to ignore a chronic cough:
1. Coughing disrupts your life
A persistent cough will keep you awake at night, disrupting your sleep cycle and causing daytime fatigue and irritability. A cough will affect how you communicate, making conversations difficult. A cough sufferer may also experience shortness of breath which can result in less energy and more fatigue.
2. Chronic cough hurts
Constant coughing creates inflamed throat tissue, mouth soreness, and even severe headaches. The action of coughing can cause chronic muscular pain in the chest and back. A person with weak bones, such an elderly individual, could crack a rib if they cough hard enough.
3. Cough is a symptom
Short-term cough could be a symptom of several conditions, such as asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies, whooping cough, pneumonia, or viral fever. It is important to see your doctor, to catch a diagnosis early on. Leaving a condition untreated will lead to further complications.
4. Coughing spreads germs
It goes without saying, that coughing does spread infectious organisms. By not getting your cough under control, you are only spreading germs to innocent bystanders. Even if you can tolerate your chronic cough, those around you are probably tired of the disruption and the germ exposure.
5. Chronic cough can be a warning sign
While not the only symptom, chronic cough is a potential indicator of more severe conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), an ear infection, tuberculosis, lung disease, cancer, or congestive heart failure. A visit to your doctor to treat this symptom could lead to the detection of any of these conditions.
If you are coughing for longer than a week, make an appointment with cough expert Dr. Rotskoff at Clarity Allergy Center in Chicago. Whether the outcome of your visit is cough relief or diagnosing a more serious condition, consulting with a cough expert will help better manage your symptoms.
Clarity Allergy Center
Brian Rotskoff, MD
4801 W. Peterson Avenue, Suite #306
North Chicago, IL 60646
3000 N. Halsted Street, Suite #611
Chicago, IL 60657
125 S. Wilke Road, Suite #100
Arlington Heights, IL 60005