North Richland Hills, TX

North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie, TX

North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie, TX

Six Causes of a Persistent Cough and When to be Concerned

Woman with persistent cough trying to work from home

Normally, a cough is a symptom of allergies or illness. But your cough is normally intermittent and only lasts a few days. But if you’re coughing all day, every day, something going on.

But sometimes, coughs can hang around for a long time. You’re not feeling sick but your cough is hanging around stubbornly. You cough at the supermarket, at the movies (and get a few dirty looks in the process), in your car, everywhere. And you, very justifiably, think: why doesn’t my cough subside?

Should I be worried if I’m experiencing a persistent cough? Well, sometimes a persistent cough can be little more than aggravating; in other cases, it might be a symbol of serious illness. It’s a good plan to try and figure out what’s going on in either case.

Persistent coughs can be, well, aggravating

It can be very aggravating, coughing constantly. Coughing is a very jarring experience. Even a low-key persistent cough can significantly (and negatively) affect your life thanks to those violent eruptions of air.

There are a couple of ways that a persistent cough might affect your general quality of life:

  • Difficulty eating: Eating can be a bit difficult when you have a persistent cough. It’s especially difficult for food to go down when air is coming up (but it will probably come with some increased choking and coughing). Eating with a chronic cough can be challenging as a result.
  • Trouble sleeping: Sleeping is all but out of the question when you keep coughing. Nothing is more irritating than being on the cusp of drifting off to dreamland only to be woken up by a coughing fit.
  • Social stigma: Covid is still a serious concern for everyone. That’s reasonable and probably sensible! In part due to this, however, anyone who coughs immediately becomes a persona non grata. People will try to stay away from that person no matter what. Even if your cough is non-contagious, you’ll likely still experience a lot of social stigma. And that’s not enjoyable for anyone.

Identifying a persistent cough

So, how do you determine a persistent cough from a lingering cold? Well, duration is one of the best diagnostic factors: how long has the cough lingered? A chronic persistent cough, generally speaking, is one that lingers for more than 6-8 weeks.

Here are some other symptoms that can come along with a persistent cough:

  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • In some situations, a fever or cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Sweating overnight
  • Heartburn
  • Post nasal drip
  • Losing weight
  • Coughing up blood
  • A sore throat (especially if you’re clearing your throat often)

The severity of these symptoms will vary on a case by case basis. Generally speaking, however, if you encounter any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor about your treatment solutions.

What could be causing your persistent cough?

You should get your persistent cough checked out because it will normally be a symptom of some other underlying condition. Some of them are serious; some of them less so.

The most prevalent causes include the following:

  • Digestive issues: A disease known as GERD or acid reflux can sometimes cause coughing. In these cases, your body is reacting to the stomach acid or bile that’s traveling up your esophagus. It sounds terrible, and it is. Getting the best way to manage these digestive issues is essential and your doctor can help you with that.
  • Allergies: Sneezing is normally what most people think of when they consider allergies. But that’s not always the case. Coughing can also be triggered by allergies. If you notice that your persistent cough is more prevalent in the spring or summer, for example, you might want to ask your provider if they think you may have allergies. And in these cases, getting an allergy test can provide you with a lot of answers.
  • Pulmonary diseases like this can often be slowed, but not necessarily cured.

  • Sinus problems: Your sinuses are big cavities found inside your face. Problems with your sinuses (like infections) can trigger post nasal drip, and that post nasal drip can cause a cough. Sinus problems can be managed by medication or by surgery, depending on the root cause.
  • Smoking: Smoking is a complete health risk, but that isn’t surprising for anybody at this point. It can cause a chronic cough as well as all manner of other lung issues. You may have contaminants, like tar, trapped in your throat which would be best case scenario. If you’re less lucky, the cough will be the result of long-term damage that’s a direct consequence of your smoking. Your lungs will thank you if you quit smoking immediately, either way.
  • Lung diseases: Lots of lung diseases, including COPD, asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis, can cause chronic coughing. Asthma is fairly common and can usually be effectively managed with lifestyle choices and medications. However, diseases such as COPD are harder to treat. Over time, this degenerative disease can affect your breathing. Frequent, coughing is also a symptom.
  • Medications: In some cases, your medications may cause a reaction that triggers coughing. Your provider should be quite well versed in these reactions, so make sure to get a consultation. There might be substitute medication possibilities that don’t cause the same reaction.

When to be concerned about your chronic cough

So, when should you worry? Your cough will go away on its own in most situations. But if it’s sticking around for more than 6-8 weeks, and if it doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medications at all, then it may be time to call your provider and schedule an appointment.

Checking in on the health of your lungs, pulmonary system, and throat is never a bad plan even if your cough does subside. Make an appointment with us as soon as possible!


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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