By Dr. Nikhil Modi, Pulmonology
What is a Persistent Cough?
A chronic persistent cough is defined as a cough that prolongs beyond three weeks. Risk factors include smoking and atopy (hyper-allergic syndrome). Certain chemicals and irritants can enter your nasal pathway and trigger an inflammatory mechanism in the airways. The coughing reflex is a mechanism to expel the irritants in the airways.
Chronic coughs can be a result of bronchitis. Bronchitis is medically defined as inflammation of the bronchi in the lungs. Bronchitis can be classified as acute and chronic.
- Acute bronchitis is when cough lasts up till around 3 weeks and the risk factors can be viral infections, smoking, or environmental pollution.
- Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is a progressive disease and develops over time. The aetiology of the same can be tobacco smoking, pollution and to some extent, genetic causes. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) is common amongst people suffering from Chronic Bronchitis.
Symptoms of Bronchitis-
For both acute and chronic bronchitis, symptoms include-
- Cough with sputum which may be clear, white, yellowish-grey or greenish in colour
- Dyspnea or shortness of breath
- Discomfort in chest
- Fever and chills may occur
Diagnosis of Bronchitis-
- Chest X-ray
- Pulmonary Function Test
- Sputum Test
Treatment of Bronchitis-
Most of the time, acute bronchitis gets resolved on its own. Although for patients with chronic bronchitis, medical attention is recommended.
The common agents used for the treatment of Chronic bronchitis are-
- Antibiotics: Mostly, bronchitis occurs as a result of viral infection and hence, antibiotics can’t be helpful to tackle the same. However, if your doctor has reasons to believe the infection might be of a bacterial origin, antibiotics may be prescribed. The patient must adhere to the dosage and duration of the course of antibiotics to prevent resistance and secondary infection.
- Cough Medicine: Patients may be prescribed cough medicines to provide symptomatic relief.
- Other Medications: In case of allergies or COPDs, the doctor may prescribe certain adrenergic blockers and inhalers and other medications that reduce the inflammation of the airways and provide relief to the patient.
- Other therapies may include breathing exercises that are taught by respiratory therapists to ease breathing and ability to exercise.