Determining the cause of chronic cough is crucial to effective treatment. In many cases, more than one underlying condition may be causing your chronic cough.
If you're taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor medication, switch to an angiotensin-receptor blocker, which doesn't have a cough as a side effect.
Medications used to treat chronic cough may include:
- Antihistamines and decongestants. These drugs are standard treatment for allergies and postnasal drip.
- Inhaled asthma drugs. The most effective treatments for asthma-related cough are inhaled medications that reduce inflammation and widen your airways.
- Antibiotics. If a bacterial infection is causing your chronic cough, antibiotics will be prescribed.
- Acid blockers. When lifestyle changes don't take care of acid reflux, you may be treated with medications that block acid production. Some people need surgery to resolve the problem.
- Cough suppressants. If the reason for your cough can't be determined, your doctor may prescribe a cough suppressant, especially if your cough is interfering with your sleep. However, there's no evidence showing they are effective. They should not be used in children because they may be harmful. A teaspoon (5 grams) of honey in warm water is a good home remedy to loosen up sputum (though it shouldn't be used in children younger than age 1).
A cautious approach on medications is recommended for children, as medications are generally not effective in relieving a nonspecific cough in children.
May 24, 2013
- Cough. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/cough/cough_all.html. Accessed March 11, 2011.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. Http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=$eid&isbn=978-1-4557-0295-4&uniqId=398813857-1936. Accessed April 26, 2013.
- Benich JJ, et al. Evaluation of the patient with chronic cough. American Academy of Family Physicians. www.aafp.org/afp. 2011.
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- Weinberger SE, et al. Treatment of subacute and chronic cough in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 14, 2011.
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- Morice AH, et al. Recommendations for the management of cough in adults. Thorax. 2006;61(supp):1.
- Rosenow EC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 7, 2013.