Got a cough? The good news is that 98 percent of coughs are easily treated with rest. But some chronic coughing can be a sign of a more serious condition.
First, if you have a small, tickling cough: The culprit may be your blood pressure medication. An estimated 65 million North Americans take drugs known as “ACE inhibitors” to control their high blood pressure. But for about 1 in 5 patients, a little known side-effect to those drugs is a dry, nagging cough. The fix? Ask your doctor about switching to a different type of blood pressure medication. Otherwise, try adding more iron to your diet. Research shows that taking 250 milligrams of iron daily can calm a drug-related cough in as little as one month.
Next, if being around cold air makes you cough: You may have mild asthma. Experts at Boston’s Lahey Clinic say the number of people suffering from mild asthma has doubled in recent years. And the only common symptom is a frustrating coughing fit – usually triggered by dust, mold, or animal dander, especially in cold air.
Finally: What if you have a loud, raspy cough? It may be a sign of acid reflux. Experts say about 3 out of 4 people who experience heartburn after eating also develop a cough! That’s because acid from the stomach flows upward and stimulates cough receptors in the lower part of the esophagus – triggering a coughing fit. The #1 way to ward off acid reflux is to eat lighter meals. Otherwise, try sitting upright for at least 2 hours after a meal. Then sleep on your left side. That way, acid passes more quickly from your stomach into your intestines.