ZocdocAnswersCan exercise cause one to cough?

Question

Can exercise cause one to cough?

I'm 25, and I just began exercising seriously for the first time in my life. The problem is that every time I run, I start coughing pretty hard. Is it the exercise that's making me cough, or is it a deeper problem than that?

Answer

Cough can be caused by a variety of different irritants that trigger the lungs to attempt to expel what ever is irritating them. If you are having a bothersome cough, this should be worked up by a physician starting with your primary care doctor. Really bad cough's sometimes get referred to pulmonologists or even allergist depending on the cause. A cough that only occurs while you run is not that unusual. It is possible that when you are outside, that you encounter some irritating allergens which are triggering the cough. Another possibility that I would definitely look into is something known as cough variant asthma. Asthma is a disease of airway constriction and usually has symptoms of wheezing, shortness of breath, and cough. Cough, can be the only symptom in some patients. Asthma attacks can be brought on by exercise in some patients. Thus, it is possible that you have exercise induced, cough variant asthma, a condition that is entirely treatable. When you present to your doctor, he or she may order some routine tests including pulmonary function tests and may give you an albuterol inhaler. This test is non-invasive and will help your physician determine if you have a form of asthma.

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