What Could Cause a Persistent Cough?

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A chronic cough, which typically persists for eight weeks or more in adults, often has multiple causes, such as tobacco use, postnasal drip, asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, according to Mayo Clinic. Other potential causes include infections, blood pressure drugs and chronic bronchitis.

A chronic cough usually disturbs a person’s sleep and makes an individual exhausted, notes Mayo Clinic. It can also cause a person to vomit, feel depressed, become lightheaded or suffer rib fractures. Treating the underlying cause often resolves chronic cough.

Postnasal drip occurs when the nose or sinuses secrete excess mucus that enters the back of the throat, causing the body to cough, explains Mayo Clinic. In people with asthma, cough occurs intermittently, worsens upon exposure to cool air or chemicals, or develops due to an upper respiratory tract infection. Those with GERD experience chronic coughing as a result of irritation due to the stomach acid that flows into the tube connecting the stomach and esophagus.

People may also experience a persistent cough as a symptom of an infection, such as a respiratory tract infection called whooping cough, says Mayo Clinic. Some individuals with high blood pressure or heart failure develop a chronic cough after taking angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Patients with chronic bronchitis, especially smokers, are also prone to suffering a chronic cough due to constant inflammation of the bronchial tubes.