What is an Asthma Cough?
An asthma cough is a common symptom of an asthmatic condition which is known as cough-variant asthma or CVA for short.
Cough variant asthma normally produces a dry non productive cough sometimes accompanied by wheezing, in which no mucus is expelled from the lungs and is typically considered a chronic condition when the cough has persisted for over 6 weeks.
There is also an acute form which can cause an asthma type cough where the person is attempting to clear their bronchial passageways from mucous and phlegm.
If an infection occurs such as influenza, the bronchial tubes tend to constrict or become smaller and the body then uses antibodies to fight the disease resulting in mucous forming in the bronchioles constricting the airflow further. The body then reacts to this situation by attempting to claer the passageways resulting in th asthma cough.
Frequently a persom suffering from asthma cough may not display any of the other symptoms of asthma and thus may go undiagnosed. Conversly, a persistant cough may indicate the presence of other condtions which may require medical attention such as sinusitis & chronic rhinitis, it is therefore vital to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor as early as possible.
Diagnosing an Asthma Cough
An asthma cough may occur during the day or the night where it can cause serious disruption of sleep patterns. CVA can also occur during or after exercise and as with normal exercise induced asthma may be aggravated by exercising in cold weather or very dry conditions.
Another common cause of CVA is the use of beta-blockers frequently used to treat high heart disease, high blood pressure, heart failure,palpitations, glaucoma (where they may be present in eye drops) and migraines, CVA thus being a side effect of another condition.
Testing for an asthma cough will be similar to those for more normal asthma, with a spirometer measuring how much air you can exhale after taking a deep breath, and how efficiently you can empty the lungs. Further test may be conducted with CVA to eliminate the possibility of it being mistaken for other conditions; typically this may include chest x-rays. If these are inconclusive there is a further test known as a methacholine challenge test.
Methacholine causes a narrowing of the airways which may also spasm. An aerosol mist of methacholine is inhaled in increasing amounts and if it results in a reduction in lung function of 20% or over it is considered positive for asthma.
Treating an Asthma Cough
Treatment for asthma cough will follow the same principals as for normal asthma, whether conventional medical or alternative solutions are opted for. Once again, homeopathy correctly applied may effect a dramatic reduction in symptoms or even a total cure without the harmful side effects that often accompany conventional medication.
There are also techniques for dealing with the cough which involve retraining the bodies response and improving breathing.
In the west we have, whether asthmatic or not, fallen into very shallow breating pattens where we tend to breathe using only the upper part of the chest. In many eastern practises such as chi kung and tai chi, stomach breathing is developed which is more akin to the way babies and infants breathe by the raising and lowering of the abdomen, resulting in a far slower deeper breath which also helps to control the effects os stress on the body.
The following is a useful method for controlling an asthma cough: Take a small gentle breath in and then breathe out slowly, hold your breath (you may need to hold your nose if it helps) then count the number of seconds you can comfortably hold your breath for. Your cough will be present until you are able to hold it for at least 20 seconds. Where the count is less than 40 seconds a trigger may be able to cause a cough; the lower the count the greater your symptoms.
As with the more common for of asthma, having an asthma cough does not have to mean a life time of misery and with the right approach can be considerably reduced or eliminated entirely.