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This information was reviewed and approved by J. Tod Olin, MD, MSCS (12/1/2014).

Prolonged non-productive cough, even when it is not a sign of serious underlying disease, may become an exhausting and debilitating process that aggravates the patient's condition and can lead to social isolation. Therefore, a cough lasting longer than 6 weeks should be approached aggressively.

 

Causes


Post-nasal drip, asthma and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) - all manageable conditions - account for most of the cases of chronic cough. Unfortunately, many patients with chronic cough have experienced repeated treatment failure and have come to regard their condition as permanent and incurable. In most cases, this perception is incorrect. However, control of the cough in these patients requires experience, patience, and an interdisciplinary approach.

 

Diagnosis and Treatment


Evaluation may include an examination of the vocal cords, chest and sinus X-rays, allergy skin tests, pulmonary function tests, bronchial challenge, and esophageal pH monitoring. These procedures identify the cause of cough in nearly all cases. Treatment of underlying conditions and breathing exercises generally result in therapeutic success.


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