We all have experienced a cough that happens during cold or flu- it is the kind of cough that bothers us for a few days during the infection and then slowly tapers off as we start recovering. But sometimes, the cough just doesn’t go away, what about that?

If you have a dry cough for more than 3 weeks, it can be a symptom of allergies or asthma. A chronic cough is like a syndrome of different conditions or a collection of various issues coming together to cause coughing. It can be quite debilitating.

If you have an allergy-related cough, then your symptoms will increase during some seasons, or in some environments. This happens because of the presence of allergens you are allergic to. You may experience some other symptoms of an allergy too, like sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes and nose.

The cause of allergic cough is your immune system’s response towards an allergen, rather than due to an infection like cold or flu. Asthma can also be the reason for cough. If you are experiencing tightness in the chest and wheezing along with cough, it can be an asthma-related cough.

What are the triggers for allergy or asthma-related cough?

Asthma and allergy coughs are caused due to irritation or swelling of the airways. A chronic dry cough can occur due to allergies like hay fever. If you are sensitive to pollen, mold, dust, pet dander or other allergens, then you may also experience a cough. Allergies can worsen asthma symptoms, causing them to become severe.

Here are some common allergy triggers:

  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Hay fever
  • Pets
  • Cockroaches

90% of chronic coughs are related to one of the following conditions:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Postnasal drip
  • Smoking
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)

Allergists are the best ‘go-to’ doctors for chronic cough because of their holistic medical approach. They have specific expertise in allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) and sinus infections, which cause postnasal drainage leading to chronic cough. Allergists are also experts in treating asthma, which is usually present in 25% of patients with chronic cough. Moreover, they are experienced in dealing with heartburn or GERD, which may cause a cough.

If allergies, asthma and the conditions listed above have been ruled out by your allergist, then your chronic cough may be due to other reasons like:

  • Bronchiectasis
  • Infection (viral or bacterial)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Lung cancer

When should I see an allergist?

You should see an allergist if:

  • You have a cough for more than 6-8 weeks
  • Cough is associated with symptoms of asthma
  • Cough is related to nasal symptoms or tobacco use
  • Cough is affecting your quality of life

If you are suffering from cough for a long time, it is essential to get tested. Your chronic cough may be due to allergy or asthma. Our board-certified allergist at The Allergy Group can review your symptoms, take your medical history and conduct testing to diagnose the underlying cause.