Is Your Cough Allergy-Related?

Allergies may be the cause of your lingering, nagging cough. A cough is the body's way of ridding mucus and foreign particles, such as allergens or postnasal drip, from the throat and respiratory tract. Coughing is a common symptom of seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hayfever, and it is the most common respiratory symptom for which patients seek medical attention, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Cough Tips

Although a cough does not necessarily indicate a health problem, the AAAAI offers these cough tips:

  • A daytime cough following a viral respiratory infection requires no specific treatment. It should resolve itself in one or two weeks.
  • A nighttime cough that occurs after falling asleep indicates something is amiss and should be investigated by a medical professional.
  • After initial treatment, if the cough does not get better or if it changes character, such as coughing up blood or it interferes with sleep or daily activities, then a medical professional should be consulted.

"Cough is a symptom with a variety of causes," said Pramod S. Kelkar, MD, and chair of the AAAAI's Cough Committee in a AAAAI news release. "The best treatment for cough is to identify the cause or causes and treat them. This generally requires a thorough history, physical examination and in some cases selected testing. The good news is that the relief is possible in almost all patients."

When to Seek an Allergist

The AAAAI suggests patients should see an allergist/immunologist if the cough:

  • Lasts 3 - 8 weeks or more
  • Coexists with asthma
  • Is chronic and nasal symptoms exist
  • Is chronic and tobacco use or exposure exist

Causes of Cough

A cough is not always caused by allergies. Other causes of cough may include:

  • Upper repiratory tract viral infections
  • Nasal and sinus disease
  • Stomach and esophageal problems such as GERD
  • An inhaled foreign body
  • "Habit"
  • Environmental irritants

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