You May Be Hardwired To Cough!
Everyone coughs. Cough is the body’s defense mechanism to protect us from choking or inhaling foreign particles. But some coughs have no purpose. A persistent cough, also known as a chronic cough, is simply irritating to you and annoying to others. This type of generally dry and constant cough is caused by a hypersensitive cough response. People who have a chronic cough that is caused by a hypersensitive cough response are hardwired to cough. Simply put, the nerve endings at the back of the throat are overly-sensitive, easily irritated, and result in chronic cough. In the medical literature, this type of cough is referred to as “hypersensitive cough reflex.” In order to optimize the effectiveness of your chronic cough treatment, accurately diagnosing the underlying reason(s) for coughing is essential.
Diagnosis includes identifying your persistent cough’s triggers, otherwise known as the irritants that produce cough. Very often, there are multiple triggers. Common irritants that result in cough in those people who have a hypersensitive cough response are: post nasal drip, acid and non-acid reflux, and cough asthma/lung inflammation.
In almost all cases, Dr. Sher will diagnose the cause and trigger(s) of your cough and develop a personalized treatment plan targeted at your unique cough during the initial evaluation.
The initial evaluation includes a thorough medical history and physical exam exploring your cough symptoms and their consequences. Previous physician visits, laboratory testing, X-rays, and diagnostic procedures will be reviewed. Then, further testing may be performed during this visit using advanced diagnostic tools. The tools may include:
- Pulmonary function studies
- Pulmonary inflammatory testing
- Allergy testing
- Oropharyngeal pH (acid) probe