It’s easy to think that coughing means you have a cold or bronchitis — but if that cough keeps coming back, it may be a sign of asthma.
Asthma affects the airways in the lungs, making them inflamed and swollen. The breathing tubes also become reactive, causing them to squeeze and tighten. That, in turn, makes the lungs more likely to be affected by allergens or irritants, such as pollen, pet dander, strong scents or fragrances, stress, exercise or cold air. Coughing is the body’s way of trying to remove whatever is irritating the lungs.
While people with asthma often experience a whistling or wheezing sound in the chest in addition to coughing, there is a form of asthma in which the only symptom is a chronic cough. This is known as cough-variant asthma. People with this kind of asthma generally don’t get relief from over-the-counter cough medicine; successful treatment requires prescription asthma medication, often in the form of inhalers.
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