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Lingering Cough

A lingering cough can generate a lot of discomfort, especially if you are at work or in another public place. Often times, the cough is still present, due to the fact that the underlying condition has not been properly treated. So, if you want for your lingering cough to disappear, you need to seek out the adequate treatment for the medical condition that had let to it in the first place. In the situation that you are not certain about the diagnosis, do not hesitate to seek out the opinion of several medical professionals. In this way, you can be 100% sure that you will benefit from the right medical treatment.

Lingering Cough Symptoms

These are the symptoms that can accompany the lingering cough:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Difficult swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Difficult breathing (dyspnea)
  • Pain with breathing or speaking
  • Throat irritation
  • Fever (from moderate to high-running; suggestive of infection)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • State of general weakness
  • Pain at the level of the joints.

Causes of Lingering Cough

These are the main causes that stand behind a lingering cough:

  • Common cold – lingering cough because of irritated airways
  • Viral infection
    • Virus → inflammation + increased sensitivity at the level of the airways
    • Cough can be present for several weeks after the infection has cleared
  • Bacterial infection
    • Irritated airways → increased risk for bacterial infection
    • Type of bacterial infection → sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia etc.
    • Fever + pain accompany the lingering cough
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    • Apart from the lingering cough, these are the symptoms that are present:
      • Heartburn
      • Indigestion
      • Burping and regurgitation
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
    • Symptoms present, apart from the lingering cough:
      • Lack of sleep (insomnia)
      • Snoring excessively or too loudly
      • Choking or gasping for breath during sleep
      • Because of the above-mentioned problems, the patient wakes up frequently during the night
      • Given the reduced hours of sleep during the night, the patient will feel sleepy throughout the entire day
  • Stress
    • Chronic stress → prolonged cold → lingering cough
  • Dehydration
    • Not drinking enough fluids during a cold/flu → chronic cough
    • Recommended fluids – water, juice, chicken soup
    • No alcohol, sugary or caffeine-based drinks → dehydration → aggravated cough
  • Excessive usage of nasal decongestants (sprays)
    • Excessive usage → worsening of the symptoms → rebound effect
    • Inflammation of nasal membrane → congestion + post-nasal drip + chronic cough
  • Air quality (too dry or too moist)
    • Dry air → winter → irritating effect → chronic cough
    • Moist air → excessive humidification → trigger of asthma attacks + dust mites/mold growth → allergies
    • Recommended humidity level in the home – 40-50% (both winter and summer)
  • Medication
    • Most commonly – medication to keep the blood pressure under control
    • Chronic and dry cough → side effect of medication
    • ACE inhibitors → used for high blood pressure → chronic cough, one of the most common side effects
    • Common prescribed ACE inhibitors include: Quinapril, Captopril, Benazepril, Lisinopril and Enalapril.

Treatment for Lingering Cough

These are the measures of treatment recommended for the lingering cough and the underlying conditions:

  • Anti-viral medication – recommended in case of viral infection
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
    • Recommended as symptomatic treatment for colds
    • Commonly prescribed NSAIDs include: acetaminophen, naproxen, ibuprofen
    • This medication should be administered with caution in patients who are suffering from chronic liver disease
  • Corticosteroids
    • Reduce the associated inflammation and bring the necessary relief from the cough
    • Cannot be administered for prolonged period of times, due to their negative side-effects over the general health
  • Antibiotics
    • Indicated for bacterial infections
    • The antibiotics should be taken for as long as they are prescribed, otherwise the bacteria will develop resistance to the treatment
    • Oral/intravenous administration (depending on the severity of the infection)
    • Probiotic supplements are administered at the same time with the antibiotic treatment, so as to maintain a healthy intestinal flora
  • Anti-cough medication
    • Administered as pills or as syrup (depending on the severity of the cough and also on the age of the patient; cough syrups are more commonly used in pediatric patients)
    • As the anti-cough medication contains codeine, the patient should refrain from driving a vehicle (codeine causes sleepiness)
  • Antihistamines
    • Recommended in case of allergies
    • Can reduce the inflammation and also improve the capacity of breathing
    • Can be administered as pills
  • Inhaler
    • Recommended in those who experience frequent asthma attacks
    • Improves the breathing capacity
  • Antacids
    • Recommended for patients who have been diagnosed with GERD
    • The improved of the GERD-related symptoms will lead to the disappearance of the chronic cough
  • Psychological counselling
    • Recommended for patients who are suffering from chronic stress and other associated problems (anxiety, depression)
    • The psychologist can recommend different methods to reduce stress:
      • Deep breathing
      • Relaxation techniques
      • Meditation
  • For obstructive sleep apnea, the following treatment solutions have been suggested:
    • Nasal CPAP therapy
    • BiPAP therapy
    • Oral appliance therapy
    • Surgical correction of upper airway
  • Natural remedies – turmeric, ginger, lemon, garlic, onion, hot milk with honey, cayenne pepper, carrot juice, grapes and almonds.

Self-care measures

These are the self-care measures that you can take in order to improve your symptoms:

  • Slowing down and reducing the amount of daily stress, so as to allow the body to recover
  • Sleeping at least 7-8 hours per night, so as to allow the body to regain its strength
  • Increasing the fluid intake – this is essential for a good recovery; as it was already mentioned, the fluids should include water, fruit juices and chicken soup
  • Ensure the necessary moisture in the room you are sleeping, using a humidifier (watch out for excessive moisture, as this can cause problems as well)
  • Keep the airways moisturized by using a saline nasal spray (once again, watch out, as the excessive usage of such products can cause a rebound effect)
  • In the situation that the chronic cough appears as a side-effect of medication, talk to your doctor about the possibility of changing it, with a drug that does not have such side-effects.


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