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A chronic cough, when your cough doesn’t improve…

tos crónicaCoughing is a defence mechanism by which the airways try to protect themselves from external attacks, as a result you have probably heard that coughing is a “good” thing, even healthy. However, when a cough has gone on for a prolonged period of time it becomes both annoying and a clinical problem, and can develop into a serious health issue.


What causes this type of cough?

There are many reasons we cough persistently. Most of them due to respiratory disease including asthma, when the cough is the result of inflammation of the bronchi, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) which is associated with tobacco use, or even a smoker’s cough itself. Other triggers include due to chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa (rhinitis) or of the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis) and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)which can become chronic due to the irritation caused by the acid that rises up from the stomach into the oesophagus. Lastly, there are certain drugs, such as those prescribed for hypertension, which have a continuous cough as a side effect.


Diagnosis and treatment

So how do you identify and treat this type of cough? If you have taken antitussives, anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics after seeing your GP, and the cough, whether dry or productive persists and does not go away, then a respiratory physician will take a full medical history to assess the cause and treat it correctly. This can prevent more serious disease that could alter your quality of life.

“A persistent cough will disappear as soon as we begin to treat the disease that causes it,” explains Dr. Ricardo PerezGrovas,respiratory physician at HC Marbella. An accurate diagnosis according to each patient’s symptoms and medical history is therefore of primary importance.
He points out “Heartburn may be caused by gastro-oesophageal reflux. Sneezing, runny nose, frontal headache will indicate an upper airway disorder. If the cough is accompanied by wheezing or shortness of breath, this can lead us to deduce that the disease behind the cough is asthma”,The recommended tests to identify the cause of a chronic cough include blood analysis, radiological investigations such as X-ray or CT scan, spirometry, bronchodilator tests,allergy tests bronchoscopy, to rule out chronic infections and to be able to start the most effective treatment for each patient.
In those cases that require it, “we will work in a coordinated manner with gastroenterology, allergology specialists, to guarantee the correct treatment to rid each patient of a chronic cough as quickly as possible”.

Dr. Ricardo Aguilar
Dra. Ricardo Aguilar
Neumology Specialis in HC Marbella


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