We use our role as a family dentist to improve the overall health of our patients. Since the mouth is a gateway into the body, your oral health and hygiene can have a lasting impact on numerous areas of the body including what makes you cough. During the fall and winter, coughing tends to be more common and will usually go away in a week or two. If, however, you have a long-term persistent cough, it may be caused by reasons outside of the common cold. In this situation, you are not alone. According to pulmonologist Dr. Sumita Khatri, up to 20 percent of the population has experienced a cough lasting more than two months.
Here are possible reasons for your persistent, chronic or an idiopathic cough.
#1 Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Also referred to as acid reflux disease, this condition generally creates heartburn. It can be incredibly uncomfortable, make it difficult to sleep or eat, and cause a long-lasting cough. If you have been diagnosed with GERD or have heartburn symptoms, this could be the culprit. Changing your diet or taking medication can help. As a family dentist, we are also concerned about GERD because acid comes up into your mouth. This can cause erosion and increase your risk for decay and other oral health problems. If we see signs of damage, we will let you know during an examination.
Most people are unaware that asthma has a range of symptoms and degrees. While chronic asthmatics cannot survive without taking steroids on a regular basis, there are also those with mild asthma that do not need medication very often. However, even mild asthma can lead to a chronic cough. If you have a chronic cough, visiting a doctor to discuss the possibility of asthma is always a wise idea, especially since asthma can become worse with time.
#3 Nose and throat issues
If your nose is running or your eyes are itching, you could have allergies or an underlying infection. Nose and throat problems often go undiagnosed but they can lead to a chronic cough. You can try to treat them at home using a nasal spray or over the counter antihistamines or nasal sprays. Some people find that using a humidifier also helps.
#4 Undiagnosed idiopathic cough
Some people have a true chronic cough, meaning that there is no set reason. Since a cough can be traumatic, it can create permanent damage that makes it more likely the cough will return.
Help from a Family Dentist
While we cannot treat asthma or GERD, we can ensure that you do not have any underlying oral health problems or infections that can harm your immune system and make it more likely that you will develop a cough in the future. If you are dealing with a ‘mystery’ cough, it is important to approach all avenues of your health, identify anything that is wrong and then correct it so that your body can focus on the cough, rather than having that energy devoted to fighting multiple infections.
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