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Coughs Should Be Seen As Blessing, Not Curse

It’s a positive sign that the body is doing what it needs to heal.

Block HS

MASON, Ohio (May 14, 2018) – You may expect too much of your body if you get frustrated by a cough that hasn’t faded within a few weeks of becoming sick.

A cough is our body’s way of getting rid of an infection that is inside. Allergies, sinus infections or the common cold are among the usual causes for a nagging cough. Dale Block, MD, a family physician with Premier Family Care of Mason, said we should look at a cough as a blessing rather than a nuisance.

“I always think of a cough as a good thing because it means a patient’s muscles are working properly and their immune system is working hard to clear whatever is irritating their airways,” said Dr. Block, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “Most people think of a cough as bad, but it is actually our body’s way of keeping us from getting sicker than we already are.”

A cough associated with a diagnosed illness can last anywhere from six to eight weeks. Any cough that lasts longer than eight weeks may be considered a chronic cough, and if accompanied with other symptoms should be evaluated by a provider. Serious underlying conditions may include undiagnosed asthma or even lung cancer.

“A cough is a symptom – something that describes how you’re feeling,” Dr. Block said. “There are many different causes for a cough, some of which require the help of a healthcare provider to diagnose.”

However, a quick evaluation of one’s environment and lifestyle can help a diagnosis. Look for these clues to determine what may be causing the cough.

Sign of other symptoms – Look for other symptoms that began either before the cough surfaced or are present with the cough. Symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes and scratchy throat may lead to seasonal allergies. 

Accompanied by activity – A young athlete complaining of a cough that comes and goes may actually be dealing with asthma. Dr. Block said there is a type of asthma that comes with a cough instead of other symptoms such as shortness of breath and wheezing. The proper evaluation will reveal if this is true.

Review your routine – A cough that surfaces after meals or when a person settles down for the night may point to acid reflux. Acid that comes back into the esophagus can actually go into a person’s airways and cause irritation. The irritation can lead to a cough.

Use of medication – A cough can be a side effect of certain medication. Consider if you have started any new medication and then talk to your provider about whether an adjustment can be made.

Look at your lifestyle – Those who currently smoke or have a history of smoking will be more susceptible to developing coughs associated with pulmonary diseases, not to mention a higher risk for lung cancer. 

Know when to seek help – Coughs that produce blood or bloody mucus, and are associated with shortness of breath or chest pain should be evaluated immediately. 

Dr. Block said what patients may not understand is that a cough can actually be the cause for the cough.

“The most common scenario for a cough is when your body is so used to coughing and you actually create these receptors that make you more likely to cough,” he said. “It’s a snowballing effect. The more you cough, the more likely you are to continue coughing.”

For more information on chronic coughs or to find a Premier Physician Network physician near you, visit www.PremierPhysicianNet.com.