Chronic cough, what it is and how to recognize it

Chronic cough, what it is and how to recognize it

Chronic cough is a disorder that must last at least 8 weeks. When symptoms are severe, a decline in quality of life is observed

In times of Covid-19, cough rhymes with fear. But this disorder, of course, is not only linked to the infection with the Sar-CoV-2 virus and at times it almost turns into a disease, accompanying those who suffer from it for months and heavily affecting the quality of life. In these cases we speak of chronic cough (the disorder must last at least eight weeks), a problem that affects mainly – but not only – women between 50 and 60 years old. An information campaign on the subject is kicked off on the occasion of the 2020 Congress of the European Respiratory Society – ERS: it is entitled "Chronic cough is not social" and is carried out with the sponsorship of FederAsma.

When the cough leaves no peace

Cough is a vital protective reflex, which prevents aspiration and improves airway cleaning but a pathologically excessive and prolonged cough (chronic cough, i.e. cough that has persisted for at least eight weeks) becomes highly disabling for those who suffer from it (it is estimated , 5 to 10 percent of the population).

When the symptoms are severe, however, there is a decline in the quality of life with comorbidities such as incontinence, cough syncope and dysphonia, factors that lead to social isolation, depression and difficulties in relationships. There are many diseases that can lead to this picture, but today it has been seen that most adult patients who present with chronic cough as their primary disorder, also called idiopathic cough, have a common clinical presentation.

They often complain of sensitivity to the inhalation of environmental irritants such as perfumes, bleaches and cold air that cause tickling / irritation in the throat and desire to cough. These features suggest an increased sensitivity of the nerve pathways that manage the cough reflex. In any case, the conditions most commonly associated with chronic cough are: gastroesophageal reflux, obesity and a variety of neuropathic syndromes.

Chronic iatrogenic cough, that is, dependent on drug treatments, is often not recognized. The most common reasons why patients with chronic cough seek medical attention, besides worrying about a serious illness, are sleep disturbances, difficulties in social relationships, difficulty speaking on the phone, urinary incontinence and being a source of discomfort for the family, friends and co-workers as well as vomiting and fatigue.

Emoji to help understand

To date – although there is a clear clinical definition of what chronic cough is – there is still no awareness of the picture. From listening to patients comes "Chronic cough is not social": a digital and multi-channel campaign that gives a voice to those who experience the psycho-physical stress related to it every day, choosing a universal language, recognizable and simple but at the same time, to high emotional impact.

"Chronic cough – explains Laura Mastrorillo, President of FederAsma e Allergie – heavily affects the quality of life of the people who suffer from it and of those who live next to them, it limits daily actions that are an integral part of the sociality of each of us, can generate difficulties in the workplace, inducing states of stress and progressive isolation. With this communication campaign, our Federation is as always committed to promoting information and helping people to have greater knowledge and awareness about their health ".

To express all this, the campaign uses emojis, now an extension of our normal way of expressing ourselves, capable of evoking and communicating emotions with a wide range of shades. The goal is to make known the impact that chronic cough can have on the emotional and relational sphere of the person and at the same time promote health literacy, thanks to the informative messages of the campaign itself that will be made available on a dedicated page, on social accounts and through a self-monitoring app – which will be available on Android and iOS systems.

Category: Health
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