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Don’t Ignore It!

Chronic cough can be a persistent and frustrating condition impacting the daily lives of many individuals. A chronic cough lasting more than 8 weeks can indicate underlying causes such as respiratory issues, seasonal allergies, sinus disease, gastrointestinal disorders such as reflux, or disorders of the voice and swallowing.

Micah Likness MD“We routinely diagnose and treat patients with chronic cough,” says Dr. Micah Likness, an ENT physician, at Midwest ENT & Allergy. “Diagnosis often involves a thorough medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests that include evaluating the nose, throat, and voice box with a camera scope. This is great as the patient can see exactly where and what the issue is while watching it on the screen.”

As we navigate the causes of chronic cough, it is essential to explore the often-overlooked link to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 18-27% of adults will suffer from reflux during their lifetime. Initial treatment often involves lifestyle and dietary changes, coupled with medications. Four main types of medications include antacids to neutralize the stomach acid, H1 blockers (Pepcid, Zantac) or PPI medications (Prilosec, Nexium) to prevent acid production and then alginates to prevent stomach acid refluxing into the esophagus or voice box. Failure to improve warrants further testing.

Infections like chronic sinusitis may also contribute to persistent coughing. Sinusitis leads to mucus buildup, throat irritation, an increased sensitivity to the airways, and post-nasal drainage. Addressing the root cause is vital for resolution and often involves sinus irrigations, antibiotics, or other targeted medical therapies. Patients who fail medical management can be improved with minimally invasive surgical procedures in-office, or traditional sinus surgery in the operating room.

Additionally, environmental factors such as allergens, tobacco smoke, and air pollution can exacerbate chronic cough conditions. Patients can be offered allergy testing to include environmental and food allergens. Treatment can further be directed at the specific allergen through allergy shots or sublingual drops.

Chronic cough is not just a nuisance, but a symptom of underlying health issues. Timely and accurate diagnosis, along with comprehensive management, is the key to alleviating and improving the overall well-being of individuals struggling with a persistent cough.

“That cough should not be ignored,” says Dr. Likness. “Talk to the doctors at Midwest ENT & Allergy about it. You do have options, and best of all, relief. You don’t have to just live with it. We can help. Call us to schedule a consultation today, so you can feel better this year!”

Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat
2315 West 57th Street  •  Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57108  •  605-336-3503  •  Toll-free 888-336-3503  •  Fax 605-336-6010