Hot-Wired to Cough: Your Throat’s Nerve Endings are on Fire!

If you think of your body like a map of a city, you may visualize cough living in the following neighborhoods:  lungs, chest, and upper respiratory system.  But some coughs have a different address: some coughs live in the nerve endings in the back of the throat. Neighborhoods are all different. They dress different. Have different slang. Perhaps they have different shops and restaurants. And all these differences create a unique environment.  Let’s take Jane Smith, for example.

Jane Smith, is a woman over 45 years old with a persistent cough that just won’t go away for months and months.  Jane often feels like there’s something stuck in the back of her throat, something like a piece of string or cotton or mucus – but there isn’t.  Jane coughs while she talks.  Jane’s colleagues don’t want to work with her because they think her cough may be contagious.  Jane becomes so stressed about the prospect of having a coughing attack and being “trapped” in her seat while she’s in the company cafeteria or movies or church or other social situation that more and more often she’s sitting alone or at home and feeling socially isolated.  Jane, her family and friends are worried there may be something wrong.

Jane fits the typical profile of a person with “Chronic Cough.”

Jane’s nerve endings at the back of her throat may be highly sensitive and easily irritated, put simply, Jane’s throat nerve endings are on fire.  “Why,” you may ask?  It’s because Jane, and generally women as they age, are “hot-wired to cough” – that’s just the way their bodies are.  “Hot-wired” means it takes just a little stimulation by irritants or cough triggers to ignite the throat nerve endings and produce cough.  These cough triggers may be one or a combination of allergies, asthma, reflux, upper respiratory infections, or other irritants.  For people with overly sensitive, or hypersensitive, nerve endings in the back of the throat, simply talking can trigger a cough attack.  In these cases, cough begets more cough, resulting in a persistent and repetitive cough, which is what Jane is suffering from.

Highly sensitive and easily irritated nerve endings at the back of the throat can be a silent cause of cough and it is difficult to diagnose.

In the medical community, this type of chronic cough is called “neurogenic mediated.”  A neurogenic mediated cough can be quieted by “cooling down” the cough reflex pathway with prescription medications, voice exercises, and diet modifications.

A persistent and repetitive cough lasting at least 8 weeks, and more often lasting for months or years, is a “chronic cough.”  1 out of 10 adults have Chronic Cough, yet in spite of how common it is, chronic cough is a largely under-diagnosed and under-treated medical problem.

Chronic Cough can be the result of many factors.  Knowing the underlying root cause of your cough and the specific triggers that produce cough is critically important in a cough treatment plan.  Cough treatment that targets the symptom of cough and/or the trigger of cough without also treating the root cause is a bandaid approach.

Call Center for Cough today to get an accurate diagnosis and effective cough treatment plan of your cough’s cause and triggers  by calling:  727-393-8067.