What to take for a cough due to allergies
A dry cough is often the result of:
- a viral illness, such as a freezing or influenza (the flu), or novel coronavirus 2019; or
- a post-viral, or post-infective, cough (cough that persists for weeks after a viral illness).
However, a dry cough may be a result of other problems, such as:
- an inhaled foreign body (e.g. food or other objects accidently being inhaled – generally in babies and little children);
- habit cough (a cough that is only present in the daytime and not caused by illness – it most often affects school-aged children);
- laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx, also known as the voice box);
- gastro-oesophageal reflux;
- post-nasal drip (the drainage of mucus secretions from the nose or sinuses below the back of the throat – also known as upper airway cough syndrome);
- whooping cough;
- obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring;
- certain types of lung disease known as interstitial lung disease; or
- allergic rhinitis (hay fever) due to inhaling substances you are allergic to, such as pollen, dust or pet dander;
- a side effect from a medicine (for example, cough is a possible side effect of most ACE inhibitors – often prescribed for high blood pressure).
Other, less common, causes of a dry cough include:
A dry cough can be aggravated by:
- excessive use of your voice; or
- exposure to tobacco smoke;
- breathing freezing, dry air;
- air pollution;
- inhaled irritants such as dust or smoke;
- a change in temperature.
Who to See & Types of Treatments Available
Since allergic cough is caused by totally diverse factors, it requires a completely diverse treatment, which typically involves the following:
- Taking nasal steroids, which also ease the inflammation and irritation along the nasal passageway, keeping the patient comfortable.
- Taking decongestants, which relieves stuffy and runny nose.
- Avoiding allergens or irritants your body is sensitive to; the most common allergens are pollen, mould, animal dander, and dust mites.
- Taking antihistamines, which inhibits the release of histamines and thus, relieves the symptoms such as stuffy nose, runny nose, and swollen nasal passages.
- Undergoing immunotherapy, which means getting allergy shots or little doses of the substance you are allergic to, so that as the dosage increases, the body develops a tolerance to the said substance.
Allergic cough is rarely a serious condition, although its symptoms can be extremely inconvenient and uncomfortable, especially if the patient does not seek medical assistance. If the allergy is not managed properly, there is a risk of developing asthma. So even if allergy symptoms are extremely mild, it is still best to see a doctor to seek relief from symptoms as well as long-term protection from complications.
- Sylvester D., Karkos P., Vaughan C., Johnston J., et al. (2012). “Chronic cough, reflux, postnasal drip syndrome, and the otolaryngologist.” International Journal of Otolaryngology.
- Tarlo S., Lemiere C.
(2014). “Occupational Asthma.” The New England Journal of Medicine.
- Micallef RE.
(1983). “Effect of terbutaline sulphate in chronic allergic cough.” British Medical Journal.
- Wheatley L., Togias A. (2015). “Allergic Rhinitis.” The New England Journal of Medicine.
- Allergy, Immunology and Pulmonary Medicine Journals
A dry cough is a cough where no phlegm or mucus is produced (known as non-productive).
A dry cough is irritating and generally associated with a tickly throat. Dry coughs are often caused by viral illnesses such as colds and flu, but they can also be caused by allergies or throat irritants.
Specific treatment for a dry cough will depend on the cause of the cough.
A persistent dry cough can cause problems, including the following complications.
- Severe or uncontrollable coughing fits can sometimes cause vomiting.
- Interrupted sleep resulting in tiredness is a common problem for people with a persistent cough.
- Repeated coughing can lead to urinary incontinence in women, especially older women, pregnant women and those who own been pregnant.
- Headaches may result from a persistent cough.
There are key differences in the symptoms of a cough associated with the common freezing and allergic cough.
A cough caused by an allergy tends to:
- May happen any time of the year, unlike common freezing, which happen most often in colder seasons
- Lasts for days to months, as endless as the allergens are present
- Cause sudden symptoms that start as soon as the patient becomes exposed to the allergen
While allergic cough can also be accompanied by a runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and sore throat, it is never accompanied by fever and body aches.
If you own a cough and you are running a fever, it is likely that the cough is caused by the common freezing.
The common freezing also extremely rarely lasts longer than 14 days, so if a cough does not seem to go away after two weeks and does not seem to be responding to freezing treatments and remedies, then it is time to glance into the possibility of having allergies.
Allergic cough can also be accompanied by sinus and middle ear infections. These are not considered as symptoms, but as indirect effects of the allergic reaction. Due to the swelling in the nasal passageways, the sinuses become highly sensitive, thus raising the risk of sinus infection, also known as sinusitis.
The symptoms of sinus infections include pain around the sinuses (which affects the forehead, upper part and either sides of the nose, upper jaw and upper teeth, cheekbones, and between the eyes), sinus discharge, headache, sore throat, and severe congestion.
However, allergic cough, as well as other symptoms of allergies, can also be outgrown.
Most people discover that when they enter middle age, their symptoms become less common even when they become exposed to allergens. This is mainly due to the weakening of the immune system and its inability to react as strongly as it used to. However, this does not mean that the allergy itself is gone. Allergies to certain types of food, bee stings, and latex are the ones that are hardest to outgrow.
How endless does a cough normally last?
Coughs associated with a freezing or the flu tend to final a week or 2, most clearing up within about 3 weeks.
A post-viral cough may persist for several (up to about 8) weeks after a viral illness, while some coughs persist for longer and are generally a sign of an underlying problem.
In adults and children, a cough is described as acute (short term) if you own been coughing for up to 2 weeks.
In adults, a cough that lasts for more than 8 weeks is described as a chronic (ongoing) persistent cough.
In children, a cough that lasts 2 to 4 weeks is called a prolonged acute cough. A cough that lasts more than 4 weeks is considered to be a chronic cough.
Cause of Condition
Allergic cough is primarily caused by an overactive immune system responding excessively to certain substances that the body becomes exposed to.
This occurs when the body mistakes harmless substances for harmful ones, and thus initiates a defense system to ward them off. This causes the release of the chemical called histamine, which the body releases when a patient is suffering from a freezing. Histamine is responsible for runny noses, coughing, sneezing, and swelling of the nasal passages, so the patient starts experiencing cold-like symptoms even in the absence of the common freezing. This is when allergic cough comes in.
There is no one cause behind every allergic reactions, but some people seem more prone to them than others.
It generally runs in families, so people with a family history of allergies own a greater chance of developing allergic cough. Studies show that children with one allergic parent own a 33% chance of developing allergies; this number increases to 70% if both parents are allergic.
Allergic cough is also heavily influenced by external factors. It may take an extreme pollen season or moving into a new moldy environment to cause flare-ups to become even worse than normal.
The body also reacts to diverse allergens; it may be capable to flag below some allergens and defend itself, but it may also drop prey to other allergens.
The body generally reacts to the allergens by activating mast cells; it is at this point that the symptoms such as allergic cough start. Once the mast cells burst, the body will be overflowing with histamine.
The exposure to the allergen will affect how endless the symptoms will be present, and the quantity of exposure will also affect the types and severity of symptoms. This is why some people are capable to tolerate consuming something or getting exposed to something they are allergic from, but the body reacts when the exposure is continuous, extended, or in excess of what it can handle.
This means that there is a specific threshold for triggering allergic cough.
Asthma is a chronic condition affecting the lungs, causing inflammation inside the airways, as well as bronchospasm (constriction of the muscle around the airways). The cause of asthma is unknown. Those with asthma often own certain “triggers” that lead to attacks or asthma symptoms.
This may include respiratory illness, air pollution, inhalation of freezing air, exercise and allergies. Allergists own undergone rigorous training to assess for asthma triggers, and are experts in the diagnosis of allergic asthma and its treatment. We are capable to act out pulmonary function testing in our office, and also own nebulizers to treat acute asthma attacks. An allergist can test for allergic triggers and educate patients in their avoidance, as well as provide regular care and follow-up for those suffering from both allergic and non-allergic asthma.
Definition & Overview
Allergic cough is a term used to distinguish cough caused by allergies from cough caused by the common freezing.
Cough is generally accompanied by a runny nose and nasal congestion, and these symptoms happen simultaneously when a person is suffering from a common freezing or allergic reaction. It is sometimes hard to diagnose and treat a cough because patients are uncertain as to what exactly causes it. As a result, they may take incorrect medications and fail to seek proper medical attention.