Chronic Cough & Chest Pain

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Cardiac issues can be a leading cause of chronic cough and chest pain.
Cardiac issues can be a leading cause of chronic cough and chest pain. (Image: "Heart Monitor" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Rennett Stowe (Thomas) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Chronic cough and chest pain can be problematic for some people. Some may suffer in silence with these conditions for months or years before receiving a diagnosis of the cause. These conditions can have many different causes and can ultimately affect the person’s life in a negative manner. Correct diagnosis of the cause of these problems is important to effectively treat them.

Significance

Chronic cough and chest pain can be a significant sign of a more serious problem. They can be a sign that you have heart problems, suffer from an illness such as pneumonia or bronchitis or are having a bad reaction to medications. It may also be a significant sign that you are suffering from acid reflux, which commonly causes coughing and chest pain. If the pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as tightening and pain in the chest and shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention because you may be having a heart attack.

Causes

A chronic cough and chest pain can be caused by many different things. Minor causes can range from post-nasal drip to a respiratory tract infection. Medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can cause a chronic cough to develop, and since ACE inhibitors are used to treat heart failure, chest pain may already be present. Other medical conditions such as pneumonia and pulmonary embolisms can potentially cause these same symptoms. In addition, a chronic cough can cause inflammation, which can cause chest pain.

Effects

The effects of chronic cough and chest pain can be mild to severe, depending on the symptoms. For example, in patients who suffer from chronic heart failure, coughing may be constant and can take its toll. Chronic coughing can cause a person to lose sleep, suffer from hoarseness and be unable to exercise or carry on conversations without having coughing spells. Chest pain can also take a toll, especially if it is severe. Both problems can reduce an individual's quality of life.

Identification

The problem of chronic cough and chest pain should be investigated by a physician. It can be caused by a simple, non life- threatening illness such as acid reflux, but your physician can order tests to determine the cause. The physician may also order blood tests, a chest X-ray and an EKG test to check your heart's health. If a gastrointestinal problem is suspected, your physician may do an endoscopy, which involves putting a camera on a long cord down your throat to look for any problems.

Treatment

If the cough and chest pain are caused by cardiac conditions, your physician may prescribe medications such as angiotensin receptor blockers, which can improve chest pain without causing a chronic cough, side effect of ACE inhibitors. Gastrointestinal problems can be treated with medications or diet changes. Severe chest pain that is heart-related may need to be treated with nitroglycerine or pain medication. If an infection is causing the pain, antibiotics and/or anticongestants may be enough to relieve the symptoms. In addition, coughing can be improved by switching medications or using a cough suppressant or peppermint.

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