Cough is usually described as chronic if it is present for eight weeks or more. The most common causes of chronic cough are postnasal drainage, asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or heartburn. Any or all of these may be the cause of chronic cough, in addition to a number of other less common causes. An allergist can help diagnose the cause(s) of your chronic cough.
Allergists have particular expertise in allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) and sinus infections, which may contribute to postnasal drainage, a common cause of chronic cough. Allergists are also experts at diagnosing and treating asthma, which may be present in 25% of patients with chronic cough. Cough from asthma may be associated with wheeze, shortness of breath or chest tightness and may be worsened by colds, exercise, smoke exposure and laughter, among other things. In addition, allergists are experienced in dealing with GERD, or heartburn, which may produce cough.
When to see an allergist:
• If you have a cough that lasts more than eight weeks.
• If your cough is associated with symptoms of asthma.
• If your cough is associated with nasal symptoms or tobacco use.
• If your cough is severe and affecting your quality of life.