The Familiar Asthma Cough

Times of exacerbation or worsening asthma truly sucks. This summer, I had a loss of asthma control, this was likely due to my current treatment no longer being effective and needing adjustment. I have had the worst bout of cough that I have had in some time. This meant that I had to track down the source. Was it environmental allergies that we're now adding to the mix? Was my loss of asthma control getting worse?

What is asthma cough?

Chronic cough is defined as a cough that lasts more than eight weeks.1 Unfortunately, my cough was approaching the eight-week mark. I had already made one medication modification that seemed to help some but not fully. The cough was certainly cramping my lifestyle, the constant coughing, sore ribs, the not wanting to eat anything that could induce a cough or would be likely to be coughed up.

It is thought that chronic cough can be one of the most troublesome perceived symptoms that asthmatics experience. Personally, it is the symptom that most often causes people to turn and look. This is mostly done to ensure that I am not coughing up a lung, but honestly, it sometimes feels like I am. It has kept me up at night, and sometimes I just can’t seem to shake it.

Maintaining control over my cough

This bout of asthma cough came with sputum - also super annoying. The good news is that when I have good control, my cough is quite well managed and almost nonexistent. This bout was all about management and getting back to being in control.

I am fortunate that through a good working relationship with my physicians I was able to make some medication adjustments that have really helped. Unfortunately, the management entails getting a better handle on asthma symptoms, in my case my asthma cough was linked to a loss of inflammation control. Therefore, I had a change in inflammation management as well as a change in my bronchodilator. This also had me wishing that I could take a cough suppressant. As you may know, asthmatics need to be very careful about suppressing their cough. If your cough is caused by asthma, asthma-specific medications are the best.

New research on chronic cough and asthma

There is research being conducted on the role and impact of chronic cough on asthma.1 The purpose of the study was to identify if there was a linkage to asthma severity and/or a more severe phenotype in asthmatics with chronic cough. These individuals had greater health care utilization, lower lung function, and higher levels of systemic inflammatory biomarkers. The study also highlighted the difference between asthma and chronic cough entities however, there were some linkages between cough-variant asthma and those with chronic cough. This led to the connection between chronic cough and a more severe asthma phenotype.

Are you a cougher? Have you experienced periods of chronic cough? What have been your methods of coping? Let me know in the comments below!

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