It’s been over a week, but you’re still coughing.
Your Cold/Flu Has Irritated Your Airways
Unfortunately, the effects of viruses or bacteria can last long after the actual infection is gone. A chronic cough can be the most predicable aftermath of a cold or other viral infection, says Norman H. Edelman, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. While most cold symptoms may go away after a few days, your cough can hang around for weeks, even months, because viruses can cause your airways to become swollen and oversensitive.
You Have Asthma or Allergies
Allergies and asthma are common causes of prolonged coughing. A cold can even cause an asthma attack. In fact, some people learn they have asthma after suffering from a cold.
In addition, acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea can also cause a chronic cough. Notify a doctor if you experience the below acid reflux symptoms:
• Ongoing cough
Also, see your doctor if you have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, such as:
• Loud snoring
• Nighttime choking or gasping
• Recurrent awakenings
• Sleepiness during the day
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Stress, especially when it’s chronic, can make colds last longer. To better control a lingering cough, slow down and reduce stress while you’re sick. Pushing yourself too hard may just make you sicker. One way to relax is to rest more – always aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
You’re Not Drinking Enough Fluids
When you have a cold or the flu, you need to drink a lot of fluids. Water, juice and soup can help loosen mucus in your airways so you can cough it up and out. Alcohol and drinks with caffeine in them are not helpful choices, since they can dehydrate you (which is the opposite of what you need when you’re sick).
Another way to add moisture to your airways is by using a saline nasal spray.
Overusing OTC Nasal Decongestant Spray
Speaking of nasal sprays, there is such a thing as overdoing it. Over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestant sprays may help with a stuffy or runny nose, but you should not use them for more than 3 days — when you finally stop taking them, your symptoms may be worse. Why? Spraying excessively may make your nasal membranes swell, which triggers more congestion, postnasal drip…and coughing.
The Air In Your Home Is Too Dry Or Too Humid
“Dry air — especially common in the winter — can irritate a cough,” Edelman says. On the other hand, cranking up the humidifier isn’t helpful, either. Moist air can be a trigger for asthma and encourage the growth of dust mites and mold, two allergens that may encourage more coughing.
“People should aim for humidity levels of 40% to 50% in their homes during the winter and summer,” Edelman says.
You Have A Bacterial Infection
Sometimes, a cold can led to other health problems. Colds and flus can leave your airways are raw and irritated, making it easier for more viruses and bacteria to invade. In particular, bacteria can cause sinus infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. If you have a fever or pain along with your lingering cough, a bacterial infection could be the reason. See your doctor, since your symptoms may require antibiotics.
Your Blood Pressure Medicine Is Aggravating The Issue
Do you take medicine for high blood pressure? If so, that may be why your cough won’t quit. About 1 out of 5 people who take ACE inhibitors develop a chronic, dry cough as a side effect. If you have this side effect, talk to your doctor. Another drug may work better for you. ACE inhibitors include brands such as:
• Altace (ramipril)
• Capoten (captopril)
• Lotensin (benazepril)
• Prinivil, Zestril (lisinopril)
• Vasotec (enalapril)
Fortunately, most of the above conditions are treatable. If your cough isn’t getting any better after a week, call your doctor, so you can work together to figure out what’s causing your cough…and how to finally stop it.
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