A chronic cough is usually defined as a cough that lasts for eight weeks or longer. Although coughing is not usually a sign of a serious problem, it can be annoying. Coughing frequently is embarrassing, can make you physically tired, make it hard to sleep, and cause you to be dizzy, hoarse, strain muscles, sweat, and leak urine.
The most common causes of chronic cough are postnasal drip, asthma, and acid reflux from the stomach. These three causes are responsible for up to ninety percent of all cases of chronic cough. Less common causes include infections, medications, and lung diseases.
Postnasal drip occurs when secretions from the nose drip or flow into the back of the throat from the nose. These secretions can irritate the throat and trigger a cough. Postnasal drip can develop in people with allergies, colds, rhinitis, and sinusitis.
Asthma is the second most frequent cause of chronic cough in adults, and is the leading cause in children. In addition to coughing, you may also wheeze or feel short of breath.
Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach blows back into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) refers to symptoms caused by acid reflux. Many people cough due to acid reflux have heartburn or a sour taste in the mouth.