Persistant Cough

For more information on Persistent Cough and how Salt Therapy can help you call The Salt Therapy Clinic on 045 434911

There are people with a mysterious chronic dry cough (longer than 4 months) that seems to defy all explanation and resist all the usual standard treatments (cough and cold remedies for children). Some of these patients have coughed for more than ten years resulting in frustration not only in terms of treatment, but diagnosis. Often, patients are told their cough is due to reflux, allergy, asthma, infection, aspiration, virus, etc and undergo numerous exams and studies including pulmonary function tests, chest x-rays, reflux studies, barium swallows, upper endoscopy, CT scans, MRI scans, etc. Even all medications known to cause a cough as a side effect (ie, ACE Inhibitors and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers) are removed to no avail. More often than not, all these medical studies come back normal. Furthermore, proposed treatments with antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, allergy medications, cough suppressants, steroid inhalers, etc are not successful. Surgical treatment is often performed which also fails to improve the cough. Eventually, some are even told it's all in their head (psychogenic cough, habit cough, tic cough, etc) or idiopathic.

A typical patient with persistent cough is described as follows:

  • Started during or after recovering from a viral laryngitis and/or upper respiratory infection.

  • Dry cough.

  • Cough occurs due to no perceivable reason perhaps only a tickle.

  • Cough may occur several times an hour to even as often as several times a minute. Must be distinguished from whooping cough (severe attacks of a choking cough that lasts 1-2 minutes often with near vomiting and appearance of suffocation.

  • Cough does not seem to get better with time (months or even years).

  • All diagnostic studies performed come back normal.

  • Endoscopy of the throat and voice box is normal (this exam will be performed on the first visit to ensure that there is no anatomic reason for the cough). Such anatomic factors that may trigger a cough include an elongated uvula as well as large tonsils.

If this description sounds like you, you may have chronic cough due to laryngeal sensory neuropathy. What does this mean? Essentially, this means that the nerve that provides sensation to the voice box and is responsible for triggering the cough reflex has been injured, usually by a virus. When this happens, the nerve's level of sensitivity before it triggers the cough reflex becomes markedly reduced; in other words, it becomes hyper-sensitive. This situation is akin to the elevated sensitivity of the skin producing pain even with the lightest touch after healing from a bad burn, even if the skin appears completely normal. Other related forms of such sensory neuropathy include diabetic neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, phantom limb pain, etc.