Bursting into a coughing fit is inconvenient, not to mention uncomfortable, especially if the cough has been lingering for weeks. If this describes your situation, you could have a chronic cough. Not only would it interrupt your speech and disrupt your sleep, but it also probably creates major discomfort in your throat and chest.
Your cough can be defined as chronic if it persists for longer than eight weeks. This hacking could be a sign of something more serious. But not to worry, there are some probable causes of your chronic cough and methods of treating it.
Other Symptoms that Present with Chronic Cough
- A runny or stuffy nose
- A feeling like liquid running down the back of your throat (postnasal drip)
- Throat clearing and a sore throat
- A hoarse throat and voice
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- Heartburn or a sour taste in your mouth
Coughs According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
TCM categorises coughs into two main types. According to physician Vong U Chan, the first type is caused by external pathogens, are acute and usually happens for a short duration.
The second type is caused by internal functional imbalances. Those coughs last longer, develop gradually and can develop into chronic coughs.
“Coughs are not only related to the Lungs,” s
These are the four types of coughs in TCM:
The Lung-Yin Deficiency cough
This is characterised by a short dry cough, sometimes accompanied by scanty
(陰) deficiency, such as a dry nose, mouth and throat, flushed cheeks, a sore throat and night perspiration.
The Liver Fire cough
A person with Liver Fire cough produces a high-pitched cough that occurs in bursts, feels pain in the chest and rib area, and produces sticky yellow phlegm that is difficult to expectorate. Breathlessness,
This is a continuous cough with a heavy turbid sound that produces great quantities of white, watery or foamy phlegm. It is aggravated by sweet, fried and oily food. If you have this type of cough, you will usually complain of indigestion, a feeling of fullness in the chest, poor appetite, fatigue and loose
or watery stools.
Phlegm-Heat coughs are rough, husky coughs accompanied by rapid breathing, thick yellow or blood-tinged phlegm that is difficult to expectorate, and distension or pain in the chest. Aversion to heat, dry and sticky aftertaste in the mouth and feeling thirsty are also common.
Causes of Chronic Cough
Most chronic coughs are caused by the following:
This happens when your nose or sinuses produce extra mucus. The mucus drips down the back of your throat, triggering your cough reflex. It is also known as upper airway cough syndrome (UACS).
If your chronic cough is asthma-related, it can present after an upper respiratory tract infection or when you are exposed to cold air, chemicals and fragrances.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
This is when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus that connects your stomach and throat, causing irritation and leading to chronic coughing. The coughing worsens GERD and it becomes a vicious cycle.
A common cause of chronic cough in adults is pertussis, or whooping cough. It can also occur with fungal infections of the lung, tuberculosis (TB) infection or lung infection with nontuberculous mycobacterial organisms.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD affects those who are smokers or who used to smoke. It is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs and includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Taking blood pressure drugs
If you have high blood pressure or heart failure and have been prescribed Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, that can be a cause of chronic cough.
Preventing chronic cough
In TCM, the
Physician Vong advises that you should always keep yourself warm by wearing clothing to avoid wind from entering the body. “It is also important to strengthen the body’s qi (which is yang in nature),” s
Treating a chronic cough
Some strategies that can be implemented to manage a chronic cough include the following:
– Stop smoking
– Avoid triggers that cause the chronic coughing
– Stop using an ACE inhibitor and switch to an alternative anti-hypertensive
TCM recommends a combination of herbs depending on the type of cough. Physician Vong states, “
The following are some common prescriptions used for the various coughs:
– Lung-Yin Deficiency cough: Sha shen mai dong tang, (
– Liver Fire cough: Dai clam powder (黛蛤散), Drain the White Powder (泻白散)
– Phlegm-Dampness cough:
– Phlegm-Heat coughs: Qing jin hua tan tang (
– Acupuncture can also relieve chronic coughs, though it is most effective during its early stages.
– Hou Ning Powder
Because there are many COVID patients who are recovering from a cough as a symptom, it is highly recommended that you seek treatment from a doctor or licensed TCM practitioner to identify the root issue of your chronic cough and be prescribed the correct medication.
- NIH. Chronic Cough in Adults: Make the Diagnosis and Make a Difference [online] [Accessed 21 April 2022]
- NIH. 2018. Managing patients with chronic cough: challenges and solutions [online] [Accessed 21 April 2022]