What Is Chronic Cough?

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Playing Is Your Cough Chronic?

If you have a cough that has lasted more than 8 weeks, then it is considered to be chronic.

The Doctors are joined by Dr. MeiLan Han, a volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association, to talk about living with this medical condition.

A cough is a reflex your body uses to protect your airway when it’s irritated from things like excessive mucus, harmful irritants, or other substances we can breathe in. It can be triggered by dust, secondhand smoke, strong smells, cold air or temperature changes, talking, laughing, and even singing.

In some people, that reflex causes more coughing than usual, leading to persistent cough. Patients with chronic cough commonly cough in “bouts” they can’t control and usually feel a strong urge to cough before a coughing bout starts.

Chronic cough affects approximately 5 percent of adults in America, and can affect both men and women, but the typical patient is a woman in her 50s. Dr. Han says many steps may be needed to assess a patient's chronic cough.

Chronic cough is commonly associated with other health conditions, such as asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, upper airway cough syndrome, and non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis. Dr. Han also notes in some patients, cough-associated health conditions are identified and appropriately treated, but their cough still persists. And in others, the healthcare provider is unable to identify a reason for their cough, despite thorough investigation.

People with chronic cough can also experience dizziness, headaches, physical exhaustion, stress urinary incontinence, and sleep disturbance. In addition to the physical impact chronic cough can have on your body, there may be a social and emotional impact on patients as well.

If you have chronic cough, support and more information about the condition can be found at chroniccough.inspire.com, which is a community developed in partnership with Merck, the American Lung Association, and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Join the chronic cough community to connect with those who may have chronic cough and for information and resources to help you learn more.

*Sponsored by Merck