In the October 20, 2016, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, lung experts describe a step-by-step approach doctors can use to help treat patients with a chronic cough. Acid reflux can also trigger a cough, and if someone describes heartburn symptoms, or even if we are not sure what is causing the cough, we often prescribe eight weeks of an acid-lowering medication. New evidence suggests that postnasal drip, acid reflux, or even forceful coughing in and of itself can aggravate nerve endings in the cough centers of the airways.
- We see this in clinic all the time. But chronic cough— one that lasts at least eight weeks — can be hard for patients to deal with and difficult for doctors to figure out.
- If it isn’t due to any of those, experts now recognize that the culprit may be overactive nerves that cause an exaggerated cough response to certain triggers.
- The authors describe a typical patient with chronic cough, and she is very similar to many of my patients. She’s a middle-aged lady with a cough lasting many months.
“We see this in clinic all the time. But chronic cough— one that lasts at least eight weeks — can be hard for patients to deal with and difficult for doctors to figure out.”