A cough is the most obvious reason for thinking that there is something wrong with your health. It is a reflex that tries to expel harmful things from your throat and lungs that is also triggered by illness. People usually associate a cough with a cold or an infection, but many don’t realize that it may also be a symptom of postnasal drip caused by allergies. Can allergies cause coughing? Of course they can, so before seeking a day off, let’s try to determine if your symptoms are caused by an infection or a bad allergy day.
How Can Allergies Cause Coughing?
If your immune system is sensitized to its environment, you will experience allergic symptoms that describe your body’s immune system trying to get rid of something. Sometimes, a response to an allergen may lead to systemic inflammation and excess mucus
production in your respiratory system.
This is why your body needs to cough — to get rid of all the mucus that’s blocking your lungs.
Different types of allergens may make your immune system release chemicals into the sinuses that make them swell and create mucous. You might experience post-nasal drip that may tickle your throat and cause a chronic cough. (1)
This type of coughing reaction may be long-term and lead to allergic asthma. Due to all the stressful coughing, your airways will thicken, making it hard for air to pass through. In this case, mucous isn’t the problem any more, you are still coughing, but what’s blocking your airways is actually the tightened muscles.
This leads to more irritation and more coughing.
Is it a Cold or an Allergy?
A throat-irritating cough is the most common symptom of a cold, but it is also a symptom of chronic allergic reaction. There are some clear differences between the two that you should know to determine what would be best for treating your cough.
Difference Between Colds and Allergies
A cold is caused by one virus of over 100 different strains that could cause the common cold. The symptoms and severity will vary, but they are generally very similar.
Here are the most recognizable features of a cold:
- Colds can be transmitted through the air by coughing or sneezing. Hand touching is also a mode of transmission.
- The most notable symptoms are cough, sore throat, congestion and a runny nose.
- Sneezing and itchiness are not common symptoms.
- Severe symptoms include fever and muscle aches.
- The illness usually subsides within a few days.
- It is possible that a cold may turn into an infection, but this is rare.
- Children may get them more often due to less developed immune systems.
An allergy has nothing to do with a pathogen or an infection. Rather, it is a reaction of the immune system to substances or proteins that it recognizes as an invader. The body will release chemicals like histamine that promote inflammation to fight the suspected invader. (2)
Some key features of allergies include:
- Most common symptoms are sneezing, congestion and nasal drip. These are similar to a cold.
- Having a sore throat from allergies is not common but may be caused by irritation of the airways from coughing due to postnasal drip.
- Allergic reaction can cause a rash or itchiness.
- You will not experience fevers or body aches with an allergy.
- Pollen from trees, weeds or grass
- Animal dander
The most notable way to tell if you have a cold or allergy symptoms is the duration of its course. A cold will go away in a few days, but allergies can last all year. Of course you can catch one cold after another, but this is not likely.
Other Causes of Coughing
If you have a chronic cough lasting longer than a month and you don’t think it is caused by allergies, then there are other reasons why you may be coughing. Other symptoms that may occur along with a cough include:
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat
- Throat itchiness
- Heartburn and foul taste in the mouth
Coughing on occasion is normal because it helps clear the throat and airways of obstruction and harmful particles. (3)
If it lasts for more than a few weeks, this may indicate a health problem. Chronic cough can also be caused by one or many of these:
- Infections. If you have symptoms of pneumonia, flu or another type of infection, the respiratory system may have experienced long-term damage. Whooping cough may indicate a serious infection.
- Bronchitis. For some people, they get bronchitis around the same time every year. This condition is much more common in smokers and is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Emphysema is incorporated under the same term.
- Asthma. If you have asthma, you may also have allergies that make your cough worse with the seasons. Symptoms may get worse with the cold air or exposure to fragrances.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease. This is a condition where stomach acid backs up into the esophsgus. This results in heartburn, chest pain and wheezing.
- Air Pollution. Exposure to constant pollutants and irritants in the air will damage the airways and cause a cough that can last for months. Fumes from fuel or fire can cause immediate cough with phlegm and throat irritation. Mold spores are also considered pollution and they are common in households. Make sure you take care to purify the air in your home, especially your bedroom.
- Blood Pressure Medication. ACE inhibitors are prescribed to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. Cough is a common side effect of these drugs that exists in 20 percent of users. The cough can persist even after you stop taking the medication. (4)
How Coughing is Bad for Your Health
It’s important to try to cure the symptom of coughing because it can damage your health for the long term. Excessive coughing for a long period can damage the respiratory system permanently.
Chronic cough can also
- Cause long-term irritation of the airways. When you cough, you are taking large amounts of air into your lungs and expelling it with force, irritating your airways so that you can break up whatever needs to get out of your lungs. This can cause your air tubes to become dry and irritated while damaging the air sacs(alveoli) that absorb oxygen into your bloodstream.
- Damage the nervous system. Chronic cough will cause too much carbon dioxide to leave the body. While the respiratory system was designed to get carbon dioxide out, it provides benefit in safe levels, including soothing the nervous system and allowing for proper rest.
- May lead to asthma. The body can be addicted to coughing. The spasm of constriction in the airways may become too harsh one day and cause an asthma attack that may cause permanent damage.
- Lead to excessive histamine in the body. Coughing is a reflex that releases histamine in the body. Too much will create inflammation in the body. (5)
Can Allergies Cause Coughing?
The answer is yes, but it is not a directly-correlating symptom. If you are coughing due to allergies, it is because of postnasal drip. When mucous drips down from your sinuses into your throat, this tickle feeling will cause you to cough. Your body gets used to the reflex of coughing and your throat will eventually get irritated if you cough enough and then it becomes a self-destructive cycle.
A product that I recommend that you take if you are a chronic cougher is Ricola Herb Cough Drops. This product will suppress your cough, which is what you need to stop the downward spiral. The irritation caused by coughing will result in more coughing and eventual damage if you don’t stop coughing somehow.
I love cough drops that have natural herbs and honey as ingredients. They work wonderfully without any side effects. The cooling effects of mint is also very pleasurable to suck on once in a while.
It works for me, so I hope it helps you as well!
I am always here for you, so if you have a question or something to say, leave me a comment!
Talk to you soon,