Chronic Cough - Causes

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

Did you develop a chronic cough after an illness? What was the cause of your chronic cough?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver


* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!


I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the black triangle:

What are causes of chronic cough?

Some common causes of chronic cough include asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinus problems (for example sinus infection), and esophageal reflux of stomach contents. In rare cases, chronic cough may be the result of inhaling foreign objects into the lungs (usually in children). It is important to see a doctor who may order a chest X-ray if a chronic cough is present. The following are common causes of chronic coughing.

  • Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of chronic cough.
  • Asthma is a disease of the airways, resulting in difficulty breathing or wheezing often characterized by abnormal breathing tests. Some asthma sufferers have chronic cough as their only symptom. They may even have normal lung functions tests. This is often referred to as cough-variant asthma. Asthma symptoms can be aggravated by cold air, exposure to air pollutants, pollen, smoke, or perfumes.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) refers to acid reflux, or backward flow, of stomach acid and other contents into the esophagus. If stomach acid moves backward up the esophagus, reflexes result in spasm of the airways that can cause shortness of breath and coughing. In some instances, acid reflux can be so severe that substances can be inhaled (aspirated) into the lungs and cause similar symptoms as well as damage to lung tissue. In some individuals, no sensation of heartburn is felt and their only symptom may be cough.
  • Sinus problems and postnasal drip can also cause chronic cough with mucus. This condition can be difficult to detect. Sometimes CT scan of the sinuses is necessary for diagnosis. Affected individuals often complain of a "tickle in their throat" and frequent throat clearing.
  • Infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia can cause acute cough or a chronic cough. These infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungus. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics. In patients with asthma, viral upper respiratory infections often result in a prolonged cough even after the infection has cleared.
    • A particular strain of bacterial pneumonia, called Mycoplasma, may cause a chronic cough with fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and sputum production. This infection is sometimes referred to as "walking pneumonia," and commonly affects young and healthy people.
    • Whooping cough (pertussis) is an acute, highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Whooping cough commonly affects infants and young children, but can be prevented by immunization with pertussis vaccine. In adults, whooping cough can be a cause of chronic cough.
  • Chronic cough in children is uncommon. Foreign material obstructing the airways of the lungs, asthma, and allergies are evaluated by a pediatrician.
  • Certain medications, notably ACE inhibitors (enalapril [Vasotec], captopril [Capoten] etc.) used in treating high blood pressure, can cause chronic cough.
  • Less common causes of chronic cough include allergies, tumors, sarcoidosis, congestive heart failure, or other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive disease (COPD) or emphysema.

If chronic cough persists it is important to be evaluated by a doctor. The doctor will consider the possibility of asthma, postnasal drip, esophageal reflux, drug side effects, interstitial lung disease, or other unusual infections.

Return to Cough

See what others are saying

Comment from: Martha, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 14

I started this cough on October 16, 2013 and I had started a new high blood pressure medication (atenolol 10mg) once at night and a new cholesterol medication and the cough got worse as I visited my doctor in a six week period. My doctor checked me for breathing by checking my chest and back for wheezing and then she took a few blood test and put me on a puffer with albuterol but did not change my medication in December. I had been seen by the emergency room on two occasions for the cough before returning to her for my six week checkup. The emergency room ordered a nebulizer for albuterol breathing treatments. I tried this with no results. The cough got worse. I was sent for a pulmonary study which came back normal. I was sent for more studies where I went to pulmonary and was given another study with some type of medication that I took and then did the breathing treatment. They were looking for a disease in the lungs or asthma but the test came back normal also. The nurse called and told me to continue taking Mucinex for the cough and that does not help either. I still am suffering with this cough. I do not have COPD, asthma, congestive heart trouble or emphysema. The doctor that I go to do not know what else they can do.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Frank, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 14

I had a lobectomy due to cancer - my right lower and middle lobes. Now it seems like my saliva is going down my windpipe often and I cough all the time.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

STAY INFORMED

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!