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"How does asthma differ from a severe cough?"


What is the difference between having asthma and just having a severe cough? I have grown out of my childhood asthma, and I don't currently take any medications for it (nor have I for years). But I do have a lingering dry cough - it just feels like a bad tickle in my throat, but it's really powerful. Is this still asthma?


Asthma is a disease characterized by the constriction of and build up of mucus in the tubes of the lungs, usually leading to wheezing and shortness of breath. Asthma often gets better as people age, but sometimes there can still be residual symptoms. For example, cough variant asthma is a milder form of asthma in which the wheezing and shortness of breath are not present by a lingering cough remains.

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This responds to the same asthma medications. There are however other possible explanations for the cough. For example inflammation of the nasal lining, called allergic rhinitis, and chronic sinusitis can both cause persistent mucus to drip down the throat leading to a nagging cough. These conditions respond to nasal irrigation and nasal steroids and antihistamines prescribed by your doctor. They are more common in people who have a history of asthma also! As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor is advised.

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