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Allergies

Sinus drainage and coughing

09/19/2007

Question:

I have been coughing for three weeks; my doctor cannot find anything wrong with me. He gave me a cough syurp to supress the cough, but that has not worked. Could I have some kind of allergy? I have never had any before now. I am fifty five years old and in good health. I take no medications, other than the cough syurp.

Answer:

Cough that has been going on for three weeks is a common problem. The most common cause of an acute cough is a viral upper respiratory infection. This may have caused symptoms (runny nose, sinus pressure) a week or two ago, but the cough remains. Often the irritation from the viral infection can lead to a cough that may last 4-6 weeks, but eventually goes away. If an upper respiratory infection is the cause, it may have also led to a sinus infection. Sinusitis can cause chronic throat drainage which may be the cause of the cough. This is best diagnosed by your doctor. Allergies can develop at any age, so it is possible that you have some allergy symptoms. Nasal allergy symptoms can cause throat drainage which may cause cough, similar to sinusitis. In addition to cough you would probably notice sneezing, eye irritation or itching, nose itching and runny nose if nasal allergies are the issue.

In addition to these common causes of cough, if the symptoms do not resolve after 4-6 weeks, you want to ask your doctor about chronic causes of cough. There are many, among them is reflux or heartburn, chronic sinusitis or lung problems, such as asthma. Your doctor may want to try treatment with antacids. It is also common to have a chest x-ray if they cough lasts longer than 4-6 weeks.

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Response by:

David  Hauswirth, MD David Hauswirth, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor
Pulmonary, Allergy, Crtitical Care & Sleep
Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University