Coughing (Chronic): Symptoms and Causes

Cough is the most common symptom for which people seek medical advice. A chronic cough (CC), is defined as a cough of greater than 8 weeks duration. Chronic Coughing may be caused by a variety of disorders affecting different organ systems, making the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment challenging.

If you have a chronic cough…

If you have a chronic cough, it is crucial to have a thorough evaluation with your general practitioner initially, as there are so many possible causes. This is especially important if you have a history of smoking or lung disease, if you are immunocompromised, or if you are taking medications that may cause cough as a side effect. If your GP is unable to diagnose or treat your cough, the GP will coordinate your ongoing care by making referrals to the appropriate specialist(s) for further evaluation and treatment. The specialists who may be involved in the management of CC include Respiratory Physicians (lung specialists), Gastroenterologists (gastrointestinal specialists), Otolaryngologists (ENT Surgeons), and Speech Language Therapists.

An Otolaryngologist is sometimes involved in the management of CC as there are several upper airway disorders than may cause a CC, including rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal lining), sinusitis (infection of the paranasal sinuses), masses in the throat, swallowing problems and laryngeal stenosis (narrowing of the airway).

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