How to Stop ‘Mystery’ Coughs That Won’t Quit
About 10 to 20 percent of people will experience chronic cough in their lifetime. Figuring out the cause can take some detective work. Here are some possible culprits and tips to conquer that cough.
Sometimes a cough is like an unwelcome houseguest, sticking around way too long and making you miserable along the way.
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A persistent cough with no clear cause is termed by some as “mystery cough,” but it’s more accurately called chronic or idiopathic cough, says pulmonologist Sumita Khatri, MD.
“About 10 to 20 percent of the population has at some point had a cough that lingers more than eight weeks, which is the definition of chronic cough,” says Dr. Khatri. “It can be debilitating and very frustrating for people.”
When a cough persists for more than three weeks, it’s time to see a doctor. When solving coughing mysteries, Dr. Khatri looks at an assortment of intertwined possible causes that take some detective work to sort through. Here are four of the most common culprits.
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Cough can be like a vicious cycle, says Dr. Khatri. “The act of coughing is traumatic to the vocal cords, which makes the cough come back even more.” Medications can be used to ease a sensitive cough reflex. Also, behavioral therapy can help break a habitual cough.
“When it comes to chronic coughing, don’t lose hope,” Dr. Khatri says. “It may take some time, but most people determine the cause and find relief.”