Persistent Cough: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Procedure, Cost & Side Effects

Coughing Persistently: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Procedure, Cost, and Side Effects
Antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants may be used to treat chronic cough. Allergies and postnasal drip are treated with these drugs.

What Is Persistent Cough?

When a cough lasts for eight weeks or longer in adults and about 4 weeks in children, it may be referred to as a chronic cough. A chronic cough can disturb your sleep and also make you feel tired. Due to continuous coughing a person may suffer from vomiting, dizziness and even rib fracture. An occasional cough is normal but if the cough persists for weeks, it is usually due to a medical problem.

Common symptoms of a chronic cough may include heartburn, hoarse voice, sore throat, stuffy nose, wheezing, shortness of breath, runny nose and a feeling of fluid dripping down the back of your throat. Some serious consequences of a chronic cough can include: broken ribs if a person coughs too hard, headache, dizziness, irritability and anxiety, leaking urine, and trouble sleeping. If a person is suffering from persistent cough for a long time, then some serious side effects can emerge. They are night sweats, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, unwanted weight loss, chest pain and high fever.

A chronic cough can happen for many different reasons. Treatment of chronic cough includes treatment of acid reflux, asthma, chronic bronchitis, infection and post-nasal drip. A cough suppressant that is commonly available over the counter helps to relax the cough reflex.

What does persistent dry cough mean?

Persistent cough is a sign of underlying chronic disease. So your persistent cough may be due to:


SARS-CoV-2 or coronavirus is still under research, yet some symptoms like cough are common. Dry cough may persist for 3 weeks or more, and may be associated with other symptoms such as fever, fatigue, body aches, nasal congestion, difficulty in breathing, etc.

Note: The disease is contagious and can spread through air, it is advised to maintain social distancing and take safety protocols as per government guidelines.


Long-lasting respiratory diseases can cause symptoms such as cough. In some cases, coughing is good because it expels phlegm. In case of dry cough, it can be associated with varieties of asthma such as: cough-variant asthma. Other symptoms associated with asthma are shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, and wheezing.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF):

IPF is a disease where the tissue in a person’s lungs becomes scarred, making it difficult for them to process air in the bloodstream. The cause of the condition is still idiopathic, although symptoms associated with IPF are confirmed, including a persistent, dry cough, shortness of breath, clubbing and rounding of the tips of the hands or toes, fatigue, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Retardation and gradual weight loss may be included.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD):

A condition where acid moves from the stomach to the food pipe, sometimes accompanied by a persistent cough with other symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, bad breath, heartburn, pain or difficulty swallowing.

Upper Respiratory Infections:

Like the common cold and flu, there may be a temporary cough and other symptoms such as muscle aches, runny nose, fever, and sore throat.

It is advisable to seek medical help if you are suffering from cough for more than 3 weeks.

What is a persistent cough a sign of?

A persistent cough can be a sign of several underlying diseases related to your respiratory tract, circulatory system, or digestive system. Depending on the disease associated with the persistent cough, it may be dry or wet (phlegm), specific to a situation (home, work, outdoors), or time (morning, night, after meals, etc.).

Here are some common diseases that can cause persistent cough post nasal drip:

Post nasal drip:

During allergy season, your sinuses may react to this by producing extra mucus. Usually due to mucus, there is a runny nose and in some cases itchy throat and cough.

Acid Reflux:

Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach acid irritates your digestive system, specifically your esophagus. The irritation caused by acid in the food pipe and throat can lead to a persistent cough. The cough gets worse when you lie down or while sleeping.


Cough Variant Asthma (CVA) is a type of asthma that can respond to changing seasons. The typical symptom of CVA is a chronic, dry (non-productive) cough. Chronic cough can also be an early symptom of asthma.


Cough can be one of the most common and early symptoms of infections such as flu, common cold, whooping cough, bronchitis or pneumonia. Depending on the severity of the case, it may take several weeks for the cough to clear up.

Unfortunately, antibiotics are not effective on a persistent cough, so it may not reduce the cough, but it will help you fight off the bacteria causing the infection.


The chance that your persistent cough is a sign of cancer is less than 2%. Lung cancer, lymphoma or lung metastases have common symptoms such as a persistent cough.

When should I be worried about a persistent cough?

Persistent cough can be detected by the persistence of cough. If your cough lasts longer than 8 weeks (and 4 weeks in children), it is considered persistent. In most cases, a persistent cough is a sign of an underlying chronic disease. Either it is dry or is producing mucus, it needs to be taken seriously. It is recommended to seek a medical professional if you are suffering from chronic cough:

  • Trouble swallowing
  • Wheezing noise while breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sensation of something stuck in throat

How is persistent cough treated?

One cause that accounts for most incidents of persistent cough is post-nasal drip – this occurs when the nose or sinuses secrete excess mucus and it drips down the back of a person’s throat, triggering the cough reflex. triggers. An asthma-related cough may get worse when a person is exposed to cold air, chemicals, or scents. Cough is the main symptom of asthma. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition where stomach acid flows back into the tube connecting the stomach and throat, causing a persistent burning sensation. This irritation can lead to a chronic cough. Some other factors that can trigger a chronic cough are infection, blood pressure medications, and chronic bronchitis. Bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis, aspiration, and other factors can also cause a persistent cough.

Reflux medications, such as H2 receptor blockers, proton pump inhibitors, and antacids, help reduce or block the production of acid. Chronic cough caused by asthma can be treated with the help of medicines like inhaled steroids and bronchodilators. Antibiotics can help treat pneumonia or any other bacterial infection that may be causing a chronic cough. Persistent cough due to post-nasal drip can be treated with the help of decongestants, antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays which help to thin and remove excess mucus and also help to reduce swelling in the nasal passages .

Who is eligible for persistent cough treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

If medications to treat the common causes of a persistent cough don’t work, a doctor may recommend a number of tests to find the real cause. There may be imaging tests, including X-rays and computerized tomography scans, lung function tests, lab tests, and scope tests. For children, a chest X-ray and spirometry are usually recommended to find the root cause. A person is eligible for treatment if a doctor is able to find the cause of his cough through his tests. Conversely, if a patient responds to treatment for common causes of persistent cough, he or she is eligible.

Who is not eligible for persistent cough treatment?

People who may suffer serious side effects from the consumption of antibiotics, glucocorticoids, acid blockers and asthma medicines are not eligible for the treatment. A person is eligible for the treatment of persistent cough only when the doctor has determined the exact cause of the ailment and provided him with appropriate remedial measures. Children under the age of 4 should never be given over-the-counter cough suppressants because it can have serious effects on the child’s health.

Are there any side effects?

Some side effects of H2 receptor blockers are constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth and skin, runny nose, ringing in the ears, and difficulty sleeping. Proton pump inhibitors may cause side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea. Inhaled steroids used to treat persistent cough due to asthma have side effects such as sore mouth and throat, fungal infections of the mouth, decreased bone density in adults, and spasm of the large airways. Antihistamines used to treat persistent cough due to post-nasal drip can cause drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, vision problems, nausea, restlessness in children, and trouble urinating.

What are the guidelines after treatment of persistent cough?

A patient undergoing treatment for bronchial asthma should follow the doctor’s advice so that the condition does not flare up again. A person should drink more fluids as they help in thinning the mucus in the throat. If you consume warm liquids like broth, juice or tea, your throat will get relief. Dry cough and sore throat can be treated with the help of cough drops or hard candy. A person should keep the air of his residence moist by using a humidifier. One of the most important precautions that a person can take is to avoid smoking as well as staying away from secondhand smoke.

How long does it take for a persistent cough to heal?

A persistent cough can be caused by many different reasons. Genera medicines can treat external symptoms and provide temporary relief. But treating the underlying cause will take longer. Persistent cough can also be caused by infection or by inhalation of secondary smoke. So the time required to recover from this condition will depend on the time required to deal with the underlying cause. In most cases, this takes a long time.

What is the cost of persistent cough treatment in India?

Proton pump inhibitors can cost between Rs 500 to Rs 28,000. Anti-histamines, which help treat persistent cough caused by post-nasal drip, can cost anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 2500. Inhaled steroids, which are used to treat persistent cough caused by asthma, are available for around Rs.9000.

Are the results of persistent cough treatment permanent?

For the reason that recovery from a persistent cough can take a long time, permanent treatment is also not always possible. Medications and other post-treatment guidelines can help relieve the symptoms of the condition. But a recovered person may develop chronic cough again if he comes in contact with an allergen that acts as a trigger or it may be due to some other medical complication. Treatment can help you overcome this condition completely. But extra care is needed to make sure it doesn’t come back. Treating the underlying cause can help you get rid of this disease once and for all.

What are the treatment options for persistent cough?

Using a humidifier in your bedroom will help keep the room environment moist by removing dry air. This will help you keep your airways clear. You can also put a shallow pan of water in the room if there is no humidifier. It is extremely important to avoid pollen, dust, grass and other things that can cause allergies or trigger allergies. Fruits contain high amounts of fiber and flavonoids that may help prevent chronic cough. Thus a person should include more and more fruits in his diet.