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Persistent Cough: What is it?

What Is Morning Cough or a Persistent Cough?

Coughing is a natural function of the body to help clear mucus out of the lungs and airways, allowing you to breathe better. People with COPD often experience a persistent cough as a result of irritation in the airways due to chronic bronchitis. Those in the earlier stages of COPD often experience persistent coughing in the morning with mucus, while those in the later stages of COPD may experience a persistent cough throughout the day.

It is helpful to remember that, in many cases, having a morning cough is actually a helpful way to clear mucus from your respiratory system so you can breathe easier. However, if you find that your persistent cough is causing you discomfort, or if you are having COPD coughing attacks, you may require treatment.

What causes morning cough?

Causes of persistent cough and morning cough are generally the buildup of mucus in the lungs and the airway. This mucus can be the result of chronic post-nasal drip, or COPD. Constriction in the airways or stiffness in the lungs can also cause a persistent cough, often resulting from asthma, interstitial lung disease and other chronic inflammatory diseases. Persistent cough can also be caused by lung irritants that may have been inhaled. Because people with chronic bronchitis experience consistent irritation in the airways, a persistent morning cough is often associated with this disease. In addition, people who smoke commonly experience a morning cough or persistent cough as a result of the irritation caused by smoking. Finally, if there has been excess exposure to pollution in the air, a morning cough can sometimes result after exposure. If you want to find out which causes of persistent cough are affecting you, talk to your doctor about your exposure to smoke, pollution and other lung irritants to learn more about why you have a morning cough.

Is having morning cough a symptom of COPD?

A morning cough and a persistent cough are very common for people living with COPD. In fact, COPD patients are often diagnosed after discovering that they have a persistent cough that will not go away. If you have a persistent cough, meaning your cough lasts for at least three months for two years in a row, talk to your doctor about being tested for COPD. If you have already been diagnosed with COPD and are experiencing a morning cough that is persistent and producing mucus, talk to your doctor about the best way to treat it.

How to Treat Morning Cough

Your doctor will decide when and how your morning cough should be treated. Depending on the type of cough you have, how much it affects your daily life and whether or not you are able to productively clear the mucus are all factors that could affect how and whether your

cough is treated. For many people with COPD, coughing is a helpful, productive way to clear mucus from the lungs and airways. However, if your coughing is caused by something else, or if your coughing becomes painful, difficult to control, keeps you up at night or causes bronchospasms, you may require treatment.

If you are having trouble clearing the mucus that is blocking your airways, your doctor may prescribe expectorants to help make the mucus easier to cough up. If your cough becomes painful or you are having trouble controlling your coughing, a cough suppressant may be prescribed to help you rest and recover. If you are experiencing bronchospasms, also called COPD coughing attacks, which cause the muscles surrounding your airways to tighten and constrict your breathing, you may need treatment to relax your airways so you can breathe easier. In that case, a bronchodilator or inhaled steroid may be prescribed.

If you are in the later stages of COPD and are finding that your persistent cough is no longer a morning cough, but takes place throughout the day, you may find you are struggling to get the oxygen you need. In that case, oxygen therapy may be helpful for improving your oxygen intake and saturation.

Inogen Can Help

If you experience COPD coughing attacks, you may need helping getting the oxygen you need throughout the day. If so, oxygen therapy can be beneficial. In order to get the greatest benefits without impacting your freedom or mobility, talk to your doctor about whether a portable oxygen concentrator is right for you.

Portable oxygen concentrators, like those made by Inogen, make getting your oxygen treatments easy, whether you are at home or on the go. Because Inogen’s portable oxygen concentrators are so compact and lightweight, you can treat your persistent cough even while going about your daily activities. If you need oxygen therapy, talk to your healthcare provider and contact Inogen today to find out which of our products is right for you. A persistent cough does not need to get in the way of your life. Improve your independence, mobility and freedom today with Inogen portable oxygen concentrators.

Frequently Asked Questions: Persistent Morning Cough

How do I know if my morning cough is serious?

Generally speaking, a morning cough is not something to be concerned about on its own. A persistent morning cough could be caused by a number of different things, including postnasal drip, reflux, asthma, allergies or smoking. It is a good idea to see your doctor for any morning cough that becomes chronic, meaning it lasts longer than eight weeks, just to make sure there are no other medical concerns contributing to your cough. However, if your morning cough is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor right away.

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood or bloody mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Increase in mucus production
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing

Should I see a physician for a morning cough?

If your morning cough is chronic and persistent, meaning it lasts more than eight weeks, it is a good idea to contact your doctor for a checkup. While the majority of morning coughs are nothing to panic about, they can be a sign that something is wrong in your respiratory system. If your morning cough is accompanied by other signs, like excess fatigue, fever, chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, weight loss or wheezing, you should see your doctor right away.

Does my morning cough mean I have COPD?

A morning cough on its own does not necessarily indicate COPD. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions, so it is important to pay attention to any other symptoms you may have. If your morning cough lasts more than a couple weeks, note any other symptoms you are experiencing, even if they seem mild. If your cough continues past eight weeks, see your doctor. If you have other concerning symptoms accompanying your morning cough, including shortness of breath, wheezing or significant fatigue or weakness, talk to your doctor right away as the morning cough could be an early indicator of COPD or another respiratory illness. 

My morning cough is productive. What does that mean?

That depends on a few things. Generally, a productive cough is a good sign, but you also want to keep track of how long your morning cough persists. If it is an acute cough, meaning it lasts three weeks or less, your productive morning cough did exactly what it was supposed to do—it helped clear your lungs and airways of mucus or an irritant. If your morning cough lasts more than eight weeks, and if you find it disrupts your sleep or causes fatigue, you should see your doctor. You should also see your doctor if you are coughing up colorful or bloody mucus. Certain illnesses can cause a chronic cough, and some of them are not a concern; however, all chronic coughs should be checked out and the cause diagnosed by a doctor to ensure that you treat the cough properly. 


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