At this point, everyone has a general idea of what asthma is or at least the different signs of it. But did you know there is something called cough variant asthma? In fact, there’s a chance you might know someone who has it but has never been properly diagnosed. To keep you informed, we’re going to take a look at cough variant asthma and everything you need to know about it. We’ll look at cough variant asthma symptoms, the various cough variant asthma treatments for adults, and cough variant asthma natural treatments that you can use in the comfort of your own home.
Causes and Complications of Cough Variant Asthma
Cough variant asthma is pretty specific and is easily noticeable in young children. Much like classic asthma, the true causes of cough variant asthma are currently unknown. However, it does seem to appear during upper respiratory infections, after coming into contact with allergens, or if you have started taking beta blockers (a medication often used for those dealing with heart disease, migraines, and high blood pressure).
A cough will essentially do the same things asthma does, and the breathing tubes (bronchi) will react to irritation by squeezing into a smaller size. Kids with cough variant asthma may have a cough caused by a common cold, chest cold, or upper respiratory infection that does not want to go away. This cough will continue long after the initial virus has disappeared. Cough medicine will also not work on this cough. But, cough variant asthma comes with some complications.
Risk factors that can increase your chances of getting cough variant asthma include:
- Having allergies
- Being overweight
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Exposure to environmental irritants
- Having asthma or a family history of asthma
While cough variant asthma does not share a lot of the symptoms of asthma such as wheezing, it can become classic asthma. In fact, approximately 30 to 40% of adults that suffer from cough variant asthma will develop classic asthma. Cough variant asthma can also cause the body to be more sensitive to allergens, leading the sufferer to develop allergies they did not previously have.
If you think that you may be suffering from cough variant asthma, the next step is to get it diagnosed.
Diagnosing Cough Variant Asthma
You have a cough that does not seem to want to go away, no matter what you do or what cough syrup you take. It seems to linger for weeks after whatever it was that caused it has gone away. Time to go to the doctor to get diagnosed. But how does the doctor determine if you have cough variant asthma as opposed to a stubborn cough?
Unfortunately, many of the tests used for asthma may not work for diagnosing cough variant asthma. Physical exams, chest x-rays, and even spirometry (a test designed to diagnose classic asthma that rates how much air you can exhale) may not reveal cough variant asthma. If that’s the case, the next step is to take a methacholine challenge test. This test requires the patient to inhale an increasing amount of methacholine aerosol mist before and after a spirometry test. If your lung function drops by 20%, unfortunately, this most likely means asthma or cough variant asthma is present.
After diagnosing the cough variant asthma, you can move onward to treatment.
Natural Treatments for Cough Variant Asthma
With cough variant asthma, there are some treatment routes you can take, and a few of them are natural treatments. If you are unsure how these natural treatments may interact with any medications that you may be on, consult your doctor first before trying them.
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple and used for both classic asthma and cough variant asthma as a way to relieve the airways. You can either eat pineapple or take it in pill form.
Boswellia serrata is a herb that can help relieve the symptoms of asthma and can be taken by itself or put into a tea. Best possible results will occur if taken on a regular basis, like three times a day for six weeks.
3. Mullein Oil
Mullein oil comes from the thick and leafy common mullein or wavy leaf mullein plants. This oil can help thin and clear mucus in the bronchial airways.
These natural treatments should help relieve the symptoms of cough variant asthma, but in the case that they don’t, there are medical treatments that may be able to help
Medical Treatments for Cough Variant Asthma
Sometimes, natural treatments for cough variant asthma might not be able to work. With that in mind, there are a few medical treatments that may help, some of them may even be used to help diagnose cough variant asthma.
Your doctor will more than likely give you a prescription for a short-term airway relaxer (bronchodilator or inhaler), such as albuterol (which can go by a multitude of brand names). This medication will help clear the bronchial airways, as well as confirm the diagnosis of asthma or cough variant asthma if it works. Humidifiers in your room can also be recommended to help relieve congestion and clear the airways.
The important thing about the medication is to use it as directed.
Cough Variant Asthma Is Sneaky
The problem with cough variant asthma is that it is sneaky. It usually comes as part of some other medical issue like a cold or an upper bronchial infection. It hides from tests that would normally detect classic asthma. And finally, a lot of people just aren’t aware of it.
Hopefully, we’ve not only given you the knowledge to recognize cough variant asthma, but also given you the tools to help relieve some of the symptoms and issues that come with it. If you can deal with cough variant asthma, hopefully, it won’t develop into classic asthma. But, if it does, you’ll be somewhat prepared for that, too.
Fletcher, J., “Cough Variant Asthma: Symptoms, Triggers, and Treatment,” Medical News Today, November 16, 2016; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314142.php.
“Cough Variant Asthma,” WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/asthma/guide/cough-variant-asthma#1
“Cough Variant Asthma Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis,” Tips Curing Disease; http://www.tipdisease.com/2013/10/cough-variant-asthma-treatment-causes.html