Coughing Can Be Fatal

Coughing seems a harmless, common tickle in our throat that we can’t avoid sometimes. But, is that cough something more serious? Some say to ignore the common cough, but others say not to ignore this. Coughing is due to something irritating the respiratory tract. Sometimes a food we ate, a smell in the air, a change in climate, or a simple fragrance perfume can trigger a tickle in our throat causing us to cough. It could also be a dust, a cold, or mucus that irritates us. Clearing the airways is important because invasive bodies in the lower respiratory system can harbor bacteria that can cause pneumonia.

For many normal and sudden coughs, the airway is cleared and the substance goes away allowing the cough to stop. Research shows that the common cold will last 7-10 days, and will clear on its own without treatments. The cough may continue after the cold due to sensitivity or inflammation. Seasonal coughs may last throughout a season due to allergies and weather changes. Often, people cough during cold weather because the cold irritates their respiratory system. This kind of cough is usually harmless. Dry coughs can be asthma, smokers cough, or common cold related. Some people may have a harmless cough each time they speak. This is usually a nervous tick, and many people suffer from this cough. The only cure is to take notice to this uncontrollable tick and try to tame it. However, if you can’t control your persistent, uncontrollable cough, it may be linked to an underlying disease.

If your cough lasts more than 8 weeks, it could be considered a chronic cough. A long-term cough, if treated, may be cured. Chronic coughs can consist of any of the following:

  • Upper-airway cough syndrome (UACS)
  • Asthma
  • Pertussis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Lung Cancer

If you have started a new blood pressure medication, you may have a chronic dry cough. This cough often afflicts people who take ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure and heart failure. If you have the cough triggered by the medication, it will make your throat feel raw and will be uncomfortable. Switching to a new medication may cure this cough.

COPD can be a serious disease. Most people who get COPD are smokers; however, Chronic bronchitis and emphysema can be caused by air pollution, working environments, and by breathing fumes from cooking over an open stove.

Mucus moisturizes your nose and keeps your nasal passages clean. A cough with excessive mucus can be chronic bronchitis. Bronchitis is a lung problem associated with COPD. Coughing up colored mucus is a main symptom of pneumonia. Your lungs will fill with fluid as your body tries to fight infection, and this fluid causes the dangerous lung problem, Pneumonia. Pneumonia may have been started by another bacteria or virus that weakens the immune system and causes the fluid to build in the lungs. Pneumonia vaccine can help lessen symptoms of pneumonia for people over the age of 65 with a chronic lung or heart disease.

If you see blood in your mucus, consult a doctor right away. Sometimes blood in mucus is prevalent for people who smoke and may have COPD. Pneumonia, tuberculosis, and lung cancer are other serious concerns that may product blood in mucus. A pulmonary edema is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs’ air sacs, which is often a life-threatening situation: call a physician right away if a frothy pink mucus is visible from your cough.

The disease pertussis, sounds like a gasp of air, otherwise known as whooping cough. Pertussis is a severe cough that may injure the person, is highly contagious, and sometimes deadly. The vaccine available will help prevent whooping cough, however it is still prevalent in the United States. Pertussis Booster shots are available to those who are 65 years and older.

Upper airway cough syndrome is caused by excessive mucus produced by the sinuses. A person experiencing UACS may snort and feel ill due to the constant sore throat, the post nasal drip causing nausea and vomiting, and may have an extreme case of bad breath. Allergies as well as pregnancy may cause post nasal drip.

GERD can cause restless nights as many symptoms are the most frequent at night. This disease is often caused by irritation from food. A physician would examine the stomach to determine whether a person has GERD or another chronic cough disease. Doctors can usually determine what is causing the cough.

Lung cancer may be the most dangerous chronic cough. A person with lung cancer may not be able to catch their breath after a short walk. They may have a chronic cough or chest pain and frequent fevers. The lung cancer patient may have difficulty swallowing due to throat cancer. Sometimes swollen lymph nodes, lumps under the neck, the underarm, or around the groin can indicate changes in the lymphatic system.

Do not assume that your cough is just a tickle if it happens frequently. If you think you or your loved one’s cough is serious, consult with a physician. Home Healthcare Services can help your loved one if they need medical assistance as they age at home.

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    My aunty has been suffering from chronic cough and that too only after she goes to bed. She has attacks of severe coughing after going to bed. She has tried all the anti allergic medicines and anti tussives but all in vain.
    I always used to think about LPR but then she was diagnosed by a pulmonologist as having interstitial lung disease which I later found CAN be secondary to chronic GERD and the aspiration of all that acid into your lungs.
    Well I will try to convince her to follow the advice that you have mentioned above.
    How about raising the head end of her bed by 6 inches. ??

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