A cough can be described as a rapid expulsion of air from the lungs to clear the throat and airways of mucus, foreign particles, fluids, microbes, and various irritants. Any cough that lasts for more than eight weeks can be regarded as chronic and it is therefore advised that you seek medical help. Yet despite the advice, many people let a persistent cough go untreated for too long. Here are seven signs that indicate your cough is symptomatic of something more serious.
Here are the common triggers.
- Viruses. Colds and the flu are the most common causes. While annoying, coughs that are “productive” get germy mucus out of your lungs when you’re sick. Most will go away in a few days. After a cold, though, some "dry" coughs last weeks or months. That could be because coughing irritates your lungs, which leads to more coughing, which irritates your lungs, and so on.
- Allergies and asthma . If you have them, inhaling a trigger like mold can cause your lungs to overreact. They’re trying to cough out what’s bothering them.
- Irritants. Even if you’re not allergic, things like cold air, cigarette smoke, or strong perfumes, can set off a hacking spell.
- Postnasal drip . When you’re congested, mucus drips down from your nose into your throat, and makes you cough. You can get postnasal drip from colds, flu, sinus infections, allergies, and other problems.
- Acid reflux . When you have heartburn, stomach acids back up into your throat, especially at night. They can irritate your windpipe, vocal chords, and throat and make you cough.
- Other causes. Many other problems — lung inflammation, sleep apnea, and drug side effects — can be triggers. Get coughs that won’t go away checked out to make sure you don’t have a separate problem.
Structural damage from coughing
A cough can affect your health in unexpected ways. It may indicate illnesses like tuberculosis (TB) and some cancers. In addition, a chronic cough can also cause social embarrassment, interfere with sleep patterns, and cause headaches and urinary incontinence. But it doesn’t just stop there! Violent, persistent coughing can actually cause ‘structural’ damage to your body. Let’s take a look at 7 such situations:
1. Muscular pain
Persistent coughing can lead to chronic muscular pain. So every time you have a coffee fit, strong pressure is generated which can strain muscles, causing pain.
2. Cracked ribs
Rib fractures which are caused by chronic coughing generally occur in women. The middle ribs along the side are mostly affected. One of the risk factors is lower bone density. But a cough-induced rib fracture is possible and can happen in people with normal bone density.
3. Damage to small blood vessels
A violent coughing fit may cause fine blood vessels, such as in the anus and nose, to burst, which can lead to a hemorrhage.
4. Rupture of the diaphragm
During the expiratory phase of a cough, the diaphragm contracts. During forced respiratory movements, the diaphragm is pushed upward while the ribs are pushed inward and downward. Consequently, this opposing action can at times result in diaphragmatic rupture.
5. Abdominal hernia
While damage to the abdominal wall after coughing is rare, it may require surgical intervention. Abdominal herniation and abdominal muscle tears have been reported. However, abdominal muscle tears are difficult to detect and mostly occur in patients who suffer from chronic bronchitis. Yet, abdominal hernias which are generally caused by a cough are easier to detect.
6. Tissue damage in the throat
Persistent coughing can cause throat infections. This can lead to an infection risk to other parts of the body. Inflammation in the tissues of the throat may also be caused by a chronic cough.
7. Coughing up blood
Known as hemoptysis, coughing up small amounts of bright red blood or frothy blood-streaked saliva and phlegm indicates that blood from your lungs is due to a prolonged coughing or a chest infection.
- You can drink warm fluids, inhale warm, moist air, and use cough drops. Add a spoonful of honey to hot tea, or choose a cough drop that has it. Never give honey to a child under a year old — it can make them very sick.
Source: CDC, Internet, & Others
The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Always make sure to seek a doctor or a professional’s advice before proceeding with the home treatment plan.