A chronic cough is not a disease; it is rather a symptom and can cause great discomfort. Basically, the treatments are to cure the underlying malady. Based on the history of the case, a chronic cough would generally be diagnosed as caused due to acid reflux or postnasal drip. Moreover, X-rays or a CT scan would confirm the possibility of other conditions like pneumonia, COPD, bronchitis, lung cancer, etc. Some tests, such as the lung function test and an asthma challenge test, may be prescribed to confirm the possibility of asthma. Appropriate treatment then begins based on the diagnosis.
Acid reflux is a condition where the acid secreted in the stomach moves backs into the esophagus or the food pipe. The diagnosis is confirmed by determining the acidity level in the esophagus. Normally, lifestyle changes are sufficient to sort out this. Sometimes, hyper secretion of acids is caused by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori in the lower end of the stomach. Treatment with the appropriate antibiotics helps in sorting out this problem. Where no specific reason is found, acid production inhibitors are prescribed. In extreme cases, however, surgery has to be resorted to.
Postnasal drip is diagnosed from the history itself as it has the characteristic symptom of a liquid flowing at the back of the throat. This is normally due to an infection or allergy. This is confirmed by an X-ray or a CT scan. Infections are treated with the appropriate antibiotics while allergies are treated with glucocorticoids and decongestants. COPD, a result of long-time smoking, is another reason for chronic cough. The treatment prescribed usually includes nasal corticosteroids and bronco dilators. Avoiding the triggers is one of the main strategies of the treatment for chronic cough that could be caused by the various reasons.
Asthma, on the other hand, is treated with inhalers containing corticosteroid and a long-acting agonist. For occasional exacerbations, drugs known as relievers like levalbuterol and albuterol are used. These are short duration rapid acting medicines. If the symptoms are severe and affect the patient’s life, a cough suppressant may be prescribed.