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Chronic Cough: Asthma, Postnasal Drip or GERD?

With an early onset of a severe allergy season, we are seeing more complaints of chronic cough. You may not think allergies when you have a persistent cough, but it is a possibility, especially if your symptoms worsen in correlation to pollen counts. Here is a quick overview of three common causes of chronic cough: asthma, postnasal drip and GERD.

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the lungs. During an asthma flair up, the airways are irritated and narrow, causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or a persistent, dry cough. Diagnosing asthma requires a visit with a specialist, and will typically involve breathing tests like spirometry and exhaled nitric-oxide measurements.

Post Nasal Drip

Post nasal drip is the discharge of mucus from the upper respirator tract. Symptoms include itchy throat, a bad taste in the mouth or the feeling like something is caught in the throat. Postnasal drip is a very common side effect of allergic rhinitis or sinusitis. Identification of possible allergies and treatment of allergy symptoms is essential to treat coughs caused by post nasal drip.

GERD

Medical professionals typically refer to acid reflux as GERD. While most people think of heartburn as the main symptom of GERD, three of four patients with GERD will suffer from a chronic cough, with or without heartburn symptoms. GERD is best treated with a combination of lifestyle changes, dietary changes and medication.

Ramie Tritt, M.D., President, Atlanta ENT

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