In children, a cough is considered to be chronic if it persists for 4 weeks or more. In adults, a cough is chronic if it persists for 8 weeks or more. Any other cough is typically classified as an acute cough.
Chronic cough is sometimes the body's reaction to excess material (extra mucus) within the lungs. The reason for this excess mucus inside the lungs can vary quite a bit. Often, it is the result of an infection. Lung disease such as asthma is also a common reason for a chronic cough. Smokers often have a chronic cough due to their long-term use of tobacco. In some cases, a chronic cough does not indicate excess mucus in the lungs, but instead a throat irritant of some type. People who are regularly exposed to polluted air, workplace chemicals, or high levels of dust may develop a chronic cough.
No, cough syrup is not the solution for a chronic cough. Because a chronic cough is a long-term one, the only thing that cough syrup can do is to temporarily alleviate the symptoms. To get a true solution for a chronic cough, it is important that patient works with a doctor who can determine the cause of the chronic cough. The doctor will discuss medical history, do a physical exam, take chest x-rays if needed, and even order tests that will measure lung function if necessary. This information will allow the doctor to find a remedy that will work long term.
A chronic cough will not typically resolve without treatment. If untreated, patients may feel progressively worse. They may feel exhausted, cough themselves awake during the night, vomit from extreme coughing, and even crack ribs from the force of coughing if treatment is not sought.
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