Uncontrollable cough may be indicative of different kinds of severe or mild pre-existing illnesses. In most cases, coughing aggravates when sleeping at night.
An episode of uncontrollable cough can induce adverse symptoms like shortness of breath, scratchiness in throat, and throat pain or discomfort, etc.
Mild instances of uncontrollable cough do not need medical treatment. Severe cases clear out in 14 days or more after treatment with medicines, self-care, and home remedies.
Symptoms of uncontrollable cough
The signs and symptoms that may accompany uncontrollable cough are usually dependent on the causative factors. A few common symptoms are mentioned below:
- Anomalous breathing sounds
- Runny nose, sore throat
- Tiredness, fatigue
- Sputum, extensive congestion, watery and reddened eyes
- Bloody cough, vomiting, fever
- Chest pain
- Disturbed sleep due to coughing
- Poor appetite, especially if uncontrollable cough hampers intake of meals
- Reddish or bluish hued face
- Cyanosis, bluish discoloration of feet, hands, feet, lips, and sclera
Causes of uncontrollable cough
Uncontrollable cough may be commonly caused by below listed conditions/causative factors:
- COPD/Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: It is a condition of respiratory system obstructions caused by smoking, air pollution, and/or inhaling toxins or harmful chemicals. COPD is non-infectious and its two main types are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is marked by severe uncontrollable cough known as smokers cough.
- Whooping cough: This condition is caused due to infection by bacteria. It is widespread in children and vaccination can help prevent its onset.
- Patients suffer from violent uncontrollable cough that generates a loud ‘whoop’ sound from throat during respiration; hence the name. Other symptoms include airway blockages, vomiting, fever, runny nose, congestion, and reddened, watery eyes, etc.
- The early stages of whooping cough do not cause any symptoms. They appear after 7 to 10 days when the illness has exacerbated. Subsequently, patients may experience fatigue, vomiting, red/blue discoloration of face, and sharp whoop sounds when inhaling.
- Bronchiectasis: It is a condition marked by permanent damage, thickening, and widening of the bronchial tubes of the lungs. Such damaged airway tracts permit buildup of mucus and bacteria in the lungs and trigger frequent infections and obstructions in the air passages.
- Patients may suffer from breathlessness, wheezing sounds, uncontrollable cough, chest pain, fatigue, and bloody cough, etc. It may be caused due to underlying conditions like tuberculosis, airway infections, pneumonia, or autoimmune or genetic diseases.
- Sudden weather changes: Sudden changes in the temperature or the weather can leave the body vulnerable to infections by bacteria or other germs. Subsequently, patients may experience uncontrollable cough for about 2-3 days.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): It is a condition characterized by backward flow of stomach acids, enzymes, and digestive juices up the esophagus into the oral cavity. In addition to uncontrollable cough, patients may suffer from heartburn when sleeping, sour throat post coughing, and irritation at back of throat. The stomach acids are kept down due to coughing and this often helps ease the symptoms.
- Tuberculosis: It is a long-term pulmonary condition caused due to infection by bacteria. People with TB may experience symptoms like uncontrollable and chronic coughing, which usually helps spread the infection. Other symptoms are blood sputum, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc.
- Asthma: This condition is marked by narrow and slim airways of the lungs which obstructs the process of inhalation and exhalation. Young and adult asthmatic patients may suffer from uncontrollable cough, breathing issues, and wheezing. The condition is caused due to viral and seasonal infections, allergies, stress, dust, air impurities, smoke, GERD, air pollution, changes in weather, and hypersensitive immune system reaction to different environmental elements.
- Other causes: Uncontrollable cough may also be caused as a side effect of hypertension or heart medicines, seasonal allergies, cancer of the lungs or airways, and throat irritation induced by post nasal drip.
Treatment of uncontrollable cough
Uncontrollable cough can be treated with drug therapy, home remedies, and self-care measures as discussed below:
- Medicines prescribed by physician will help reduce coughing fits, loosen mucus, and ease cough reflex
- Take sufficient bed rest. Sleep on clean bed in inclined posture in room with 40-50 percent humidity.
- Steaming can help alleviate dryness of throat as well as throat irritation
- Keep the body hydrated by drinking adequate water and other fluids.
- Warm milk can promote throat lubrication and ease coughing
- Herbal tea with honey can reduce intensity of uncontrollable cough, soothe throat, and boost the immune system.
- Avoid cough suppressants as they prevent phlegm removal which is vital for pulmonary recovery; avoid caffeinated beverages; avoid foods that facilitate mucus production, including dairy, chocolate, bananas, sugar, alcohol, and fried, junk, processed, and refined foods.
- Massage feet with eucalyptus and olive oil mix, peppermint essential oil menthol loosens mucus and alleviates uncontrollable cough, and antioxidant N-acetylcysteine thins mucus present in sinuses and eases coughing.
Filed in: Conditions