What's up with that cough?: Hint: It could be asthma

March 2, 2017

You have a chronic cough. But you don't have other symptoms that would suggest asthma—such as wheezing, shortness of breath or tightness in the chest.iStock-516280293.jpg

So clearly you don't have asthma, right?

Not necessarily. You might have a specific type of asthma in which chronic cough is the sole symptom. It's called cough-variant asthma.

Trouble in the lungs

Asthma is a lung disease that causes your airways to swell and constrict, making it hard to breathe. Airways that are inflamed are more sensitive to irritation—which can come in the form of things like strong odors, chemicals, cold air or allergies.

If you have cough-variant asthma, your cough may be triggered by exposure to any of these things.

Get a diagnosis

A chronic cough could be a sign of other health problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux or postnasal drip. So your first step is to see your doctor if you cough a lot—especially at night—and over-the-counter cough medicines don't help.

Your doctor may order tests, such as a chest x-ray. You may be asked to exhale with force through a tube for a test called spirometry. You might also undergo a breathing test specifically for cough-variant asthma, called a methacholine challenge.

Asthma usually is treated with two types of inhaled medicines. One is used every day to reduce inflammation in the airways. The second, known as an emergency or rescue inhaler, is used when breathing becomes difficult. It opens blocked airways quickly.

In addition, you and your doctor will want to figure out what things trigger your asthma-related cough and how you can avoid them.

Sources: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; American Lung Association

  • MyHealthy Decisions | Total Ankle Replacement

    Jim Lambert loves to take long walks with his wife, but when pain from an old ankle injury made walking difficult, he started to look at surgical options. Jim's wife showed him an article in MyHealthy Decisions Magazine about the total ankle replacement surgeries that Bassett was doing, and he reread more

    MyHealthy Decisions | Robotic-Assisted Partial Knee Replacement

    James Flannery, of Oneonta, NY, was experiencing knee pain that was holding him back from work and doing the things he loves. After consultation with Dr. Michael Diaz, James opted for robotic-assisted partial knee replacement surgery using A.O. Fox Hospital's state-of-the-art NAVIO system. Watch read more

  • Fifth Annual Bassett Cupola 5K Wrap-Up

    October 16, 2017

    On Saturday, Oct. 7, 142 runners and walkers participated in the fifth annual Bassett Cupola 5K, which,  this year, supports the Fieldstone Assistance Fund.

    Dawn Helstrom, a dental hygienist at School-Based Health and Fox Nursing Home, was one of the participants.  Helstrom decided to wread more

    2017-2018 Flu Vaccine Clinics

    October 12, 2017

    It's time to get your flu shot! The 2017-2018 flu vaccine is now available to our patients. Find a location near you.

    When & Where:

    Bassett Medical Center Cooperstown

     Wednesday, Oct. 25 – 8:30 a.m. to noon 

     Wednesday, Nov. 8 – 8:30 a.m. to noon <read more

One Atwell Road Cooperstown, NY 13326

607-547-3456 : 1-800-BASSETT (227-7388)