For many people, a chronic cough — one lasting eight weeks or longer — is much more than an annoyance. In addition to being physically draining, a cough that hangs on for months can alienate your family and co-workers, ruin your sleep, and leave you feeling angry and frustrated. For a condition that may be relatively minor, a chronic cough can have major repercussions.

Part of the problem is that unlike the cough you get with a cold or the flu, the reason for a chronic cough isn't always clear. Even after repeat office visits and numerous tests, the cause can remain elusive. Still, the majority of cases can be diagnosed. Postnasal drip, asthma and acid reflux cause most chronic coughs; less often, infections or medications are to blame.

Although a chronic cough may not be a symptom of a serious condition, it's important to investigate any cough that doesn't go away. If the reason for a chronic cough can't be found, your doctor may prescribe a cough suppressant or other medications to help manage your symptoms.



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