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Acid reflux could be the cause persistent cough

Acid Reflux Could Be the Cause Persistent Cough

February 17, 2020

Sometimes the coughing doesn’t stop after a cold. Even cold medicine doesn’t work. If this has ever happened to you, there’s a chance you might have acid reflux.

“If reflux is the cause of your cough, treating it should stop the cough,” says Puneet Patni, MD, a specialist in Pulmonary Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “The type of cough you have may determine your disorder.”

For example, if you’re extremely short of breath and coughing up thick mucus, you may have pulmonary edema or fluid in the lungs. Cough-like symptoms may last long after the common cold has disappeared.

However, if cough suppressants aren’t reducing the frequency of your cough, then a cold may not be the cause. An acute cough, most often found with a cold or flu, usually lasts no more than two to three weeks. A chronic cough is generally associated with smoking, asthma, allergies, or gastroesophageal reflux.

Dr. Patni recommends seeing your doctor to uncover the cause of your persistent cough. Your physician may order a chest X-ray to help uncover the cause. Lung function testing, or a breathing test, may be performed to examine your lungs and search for other causes.

“As uncomfortable as it may be, coughing can help your body heal after a cold. Coughing is a natural reflex that keeps your airways clear so you can breathe normally,” adds Dr. Patni. “However, if your cough doesn’t go away after three weeks, get medical attention. Your doctor can prescribe medicine to relieve your symptoms. Be sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.”

Headshot of Puneet Patni, MD

About the Author

Dr. Puneet Patni is a pulmonary medicine specialist at Berthelsen Main Campus and Pasadena Clinic.  "I believe the role of the physician is to help the patient achieve a deep understanding of his or her condition and to optimize health in accordance with the most proven and current therapies."

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