Any fit of compulsive coughing is annoying. While it may be something you live with because of allergies, asthma, or colds, living with a chronic cough is another matter entirely. It can keep you from sleeping and distract you from your daily tasks.
A cough becomes chronic for a child when it lasts more than four weeks and longer than eight weeks for an adult, and it can cause a variety of complications including exhaustion.
When you have a persistent cough, consult the otolaryngologists at Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center at the closest of their locations in the Metro Detroit area.
Why a cough becomes chronic
Coughing is a symptom of an illness or disease, and it usually goes away when its underlying cause is cleared up. The most common causes of chronic coughs typically trace back to:
- Smoking and tobacco use, including exposure to second-hand smoke
- Acid reflux (gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD)
- Postnasal drip, typically due to respiratory infection
Less common causes include ACE-inhibiting blood pressure medications, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lingering infections, whooping cough, and tuberculosis.
Complications of chronic coughing
When you can’t sleep because of constant coughing, any aspect of your health that depends on the recovery aspects of sleep can suffer.
In addition, you may be at risk of accidents or injury because you’re less alert and slow to respond to situations. Your risk for other complications also climbs the longer your chronic cough lasts.
The tension created in your body as you cough can give rise to headaches. Soft tissue including muscles, blood vessels, and nerves may all be involved when a cough induces headache.
The constant jolting movements of a chronic cough can disturb the balance organs of the inner ear. While these effects aren’t usually severe, they can also cause nausea and vomiting.
Your cough may interfere with blood flow enough to cause brief spells of syncope, more commonly known as fainting, particularly if you have a forceful spell of coughing.
The chest contractions associated with a chronic cough may have enough force to break or crack the bones of your ribcage.
The strain of coughing could contribute to inguinal or femoral hernias, when an internal organ protrudes through a muscle wall.
The membrane that covers the whites of your eyes is filled with tiny blood vessels. Chronic coughing may be enough to rupture some of these, creating minor bleeding that gives your eyes a bloody appearance. This is not usually a serious problem.
Spasms of the abdominal muscles during coughing may lead to contractions of muscles controlling the bladder. Women sometimes have issues with urinary incontinence after menopause or pregnancy, so chronic coughing can aggravate it.
There’s plenty that can happen as a result of a chronic cough. Your best course of action is to seek treatment once it’s obvious a cough isn’t clearing as it normally would.
Contact Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center by phone or online at any of their six locations to receive the specialized care you need. Book your consultation now.