Chronic Cough and Shortness of Breath

Chronic Cough

A cough is an important reflex that helps clear out the body’s airways. Coughing helps you from breathing things into the airways and lungs that could cause issues. It’s normal to cough every once and a while, but coughing may also be a sign of an illness.

Common causes of a cough include:

  • An upper respiratory tract infection, such as the common cold or acute bronchitis.
  • Postnasal drip – This occurs when mucus from the nose drips down to the back of the throat and causes irritation. This can happen when people have the cold, allergies or a sinus infection
  • Lung Conditions – such as asthma or COPD
  • Acid Reflux Disease – when acid backs up from the stomach up the esophagus and can irritate the back of the throat
  • Medications – including some medications used from blood pressure called Ace-Inhibitors
  • Irritation from certain inhalations – including from cigarette smoking

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath can manifest in several different ways including chest tightness, wheezing, or inability to take in a deep breath. There are a large number of conditions which can lead to shortness of breath and broadly can be categorized into three major causes

Lung problems

  • A number of lung conditions can lead to shortness of breath and these include
    • Asthma
    • COPD which includes Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema
    • Lung infections or Pneumonia
    • Blood clots or Pulmonary Embolism
    • Pulmonary Hypertension
    • Interstitial Lung Diseases including Occupational Lung Diseases and Sarcoidosis
    • Lung cancer
    • Pleural Effusion or fluid buildup around the lungs
    • Pneumothorax

Heart problems

  • Heart conditions that can lead to shortness of breath include Congestive Heart Failure, Heart attacks, cardiomyopathy

Muscle problems

  • Conditions such as Deconditioning or being out of shape and being overweight can lead to shortness of breath

Our physicians are skilled at working up and diagnosing the cause of your shortness of breath and/or chronic cough and will develop a treatment plan suited to treat the underlying cause.

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